Kumquat and Satsuma Cordial

I am not a fan of homemade Christmas gifts - especially related to cooking. However, if alcohol is involved, I ease my restrictions slightly. This year I made a dozen bottles of Kumquat and Satsuma cordial. This recipe was adapted closely from a NYT article in December. I made a batch thusly, letting it steep first in a large container for several days, then filling 375ml bottles with the cordial, spices and a reasonable amount of fruit slices.

1 C sugar, mixed with 1/4 C boiling water
3/4 C juice of Satsuma (5 or 6)
1.75 L Cruzan light rum (aged 2 years, tastes great and a good value)
8 star anise
12 allspice berries
24 kumquats - sliced and seeded
12 clementine slices

By finding a homebrew supply store, I acquired clear bottles, corks, heat-shrink foils and had custom labels printed. $25 covered the cost for the bottles and supplies. Both the foils caps and the printed labels made the presentation quite professional. So I may repeat this endeavor in the future. And if reviews of the taste are positive, may make this for other occasions.

It can be enjoyed straight up (chilled), on the rocks or with a splash of tonic or seltzer. A tablespoon or two drizzled over berries or ice cream (or both) is another suggested use. The base is rum, with star anise and allspice berry seasoning. Don't let the bright citrus colors fool you - the taste is rich with wintery spices.


Citrus unshiu is a seedless and easy-peeling citrus mutant of Chinese origin, introduced to the West via Japan. In Japan, it is known as unshu mikan, meaning “sweet citrus”. In China, it is known as Wenzhou migan 温州蜜柑, literally "Wenzhou honey citrus".

It is commonly called mikan in Japan, satsuma in the UK, naartjie in South Africa and mandarin or tangerine in Canada. In the United States, they are called satsuma tangerines, satsuma oranges, satsuma mandarins, or simply Satsuma.

Its fruit is sweet and usually seedless, about the size of other mandarin oranges (Citrus reticulata), One of the distinguishing features of the satsuma is the distinctive thin, leathery skin dotted with large and prominent oil glands, which is lightly attached around the fruit, enabling it to be peeled very easily in comparison to other citrus fruits. The satsuma also has particularly delicate flesh, which cannot withstand the effects of careless handling.

The Chinese and Japanese names reference Wenzhou a city in the Zhejiang Province of China known for its citrus production..

In the UK and the U.S., mikan are commonly available in the winter months (December through January). Clemintines are not the same variety as the unshiu or satsuma mandarin


Kumquats are slow-growing, evergreen shrubs or small trees from 2.5–4.5 meters tall, with dense branches, sometimes bearing small thorns The leaves are dark glossy green, and the flowers pure white, similar to other citrus flowers. Kumquats originated in China (they are noted in literature dating to the 12th century) and have long been cultivated there and in Japan. They were introduced to Europe in 1846 by Robert Fortune, collector for the London Horticultural Society, and shortly thereafter into North America.

In appearance the kumquat fruit resembles a miniature oval orange, 3–5 centimeters long and 2–4 centimeters wide. Depending on variety, peel color ranges from yellow to red. A Nagami kumquat has an oval shape, while a Marumi kumquat is round.

Kumquat fruit is generally in season from late autumn to mid-winter.

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