I candied these little limequats the other day. Have you ever seen one? I never knew about them until my friend Shae educated me: they are a hybrid of key lime and kumquat. They are adorable, shaped like a plump kumquat, and at their ripest a sunny yellow. They have a very limey smell when first cut open–the smell reminds me of the super fresh limes you encounter in Mexico. These particular limequats were special: they were grown on a little tree in Shae’s backyard. I only had a few handfuls of them, and honestly I was stumped as to what to do with them. Knowing that I love candied calamondins for cocktail garnish, I decided to candy them. Candying always seems like a bonus–you get candied fruits plus their delightful syrup.
But what recipe? I recently was gifted the beautiful new Prune cookbook. It was such a thoughtful present because it was from the same friend who took me to Prune so long ago when it first opened. The recipe for cold candied oranges caught my eye–it’s also used for Meyer lemons in the book, so I tried it for the limequats, taking down the cooking times for the smaller and thinner-skinned fruit. It’s also a more streamlined recipe than I’ve used for candying whole citrus. It worked okay–though half of the fruit puckered into itself, which seems to happen with calamondins too. The insides were a touch mushy, and seedy. I wasn’t thrilled. I think I need to take a little more care. And what I really want to make is glacéed fruit (here are some good pictures of what I’m talking about) which is a much more involved process. But still–they will work plunked in the bottom of a drink.
But the syrup! The syrup is out of this world. Do you have a childhood fondness for Rose’s lime syrup? I do. Their grenadine, too. Rose’s has this perfect key lime tang to it, and I’ve enjoyed many a gimlet with it, back when everybody wasn’t making everything in house. This syrup is the closest thing to it. I have found that making syrups with fresh citrus juice doesn’t quite yield you the syrup you may have in mind. I have yet to make a lemon syrup I like. It’s trickier than you might think. So this was a real revelation. The night after it had rested and cooled in the fridge, I mixed it with some gin–that’s it, just 11/2 ounces of gin to 1/2 ounce of syrup and shaken up with ice–that’s my gimlet. It was the perfect antidote to the painful dental work I had done during the day.
Now, does anyone ever see actual limequats? Maybe if you live in California. Try it and let me know if you do! If you don’t happen to have the Prune cookbook (and maybe you have kumquats instead?) I think you’ll be very happy with this recipe in the NY Times from Cathy Barrow.