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Quất (tắc) muối – Salted kumquats

Things to do with salted kumquat (quất in the North, tắc in the South, quật in the Middle? just kidding, but I did get my recipe from someone spelling in that way) : Make a citrusy iced drink that’s a bit salty a bit sweet, refreshing and optimized for rehydration (classic Vietnamese use of salted kumquats or lemons). Parch the throat of everyone at a hackerspace potluck picnic by making a citrusy iced drink that’s a lot salty and a bit sweet (incompetent use of same). Make a delicious dipping sauce for duck dishes (another classic use). Use as a marinade for a roasted chicken recipe we developed and will write about one of these days.

There are two major schools for making salted kumquats. One involves making the pickling solution ahead of time – basically just salt water with or without sugar and spices. The other involves packing alternate layers of kumquats and salt. Either way, the kumquats and salt jars are placed at a sunny window for about a month before they’re ready. The latter method is easier in that fewer precautions are needed to ensure sterilty of the pickling jar. Err on the sweet side with the brining solution and the whole jar can easily be ruined.

Quất muối jars freshly packed

Kumquats and mason jars were rinsed with boiling water and let dry. For a pint jar of kumquats, I used 1/3 cup of coarse sea salt. The jar on the right also had 1 part ginger slices to 4 parts kumquats. Every monolayer of kumquats was covered with a layer of salt, never minding the fact that kumquats pack too inefficiently for the salt to remain a layer.

Salted kumquats 3 days later - note layer of liquid already

The jars of kumquats were placed by a sunny window. After just 3 days of rare winter sunshine the heating cycle and osmosis in response to salt already extracted an inch of liquid.

Salted kumquats - 2 weeks later

Almost there … but even after they’re “done”, the kumquats should last a long time, developing more complex flavors all the while. They should be perfect when the weather gets hot again, if we don’t use them all up making roasted chicken and duck sauce that is.

Odds and ends: at some point water will stop diffusing out of the kumquats and the fruits will regain their buoyancy. People usually put a small porcelain dish on top of the kumquats to keep them submerged in the coming months. Also, a side by side comparison of our salt layered kumquats versus Bird’s mom’s brined kumquats revealed the latter to be palatably softer and easier to squish into salty kumquatade. Otherwise the flavors were similar enough.


  1. Yay, this post was what I was looking for. I saw lots of kumquats in Chinatown and can’t just buy a few (to make dipping sauce instead of limes for example), so something like this is incredibly helpful.

    Please do follow up by sharing how you actually use the salted kumquats in the future. For example, to make drinks – how much do you use each time (I imagine it needs to be diluted with sugar added)?

    I remember there’s sugared :P kumquats as well, so I’ll try the same thing but with raw sugar instead of salt in 1 of my bottles and will report back. Hopefully it doesn’t go bad as I remember that it was definitely done like that when I was back home.

  2. Thanks! I try not to be entirely useless.

    Hmmm… most preparations of sugar preserved fruits seem to require some sort of cooking and/or squeeze drying procedure, else too much water remains. Salts can preserve things at a lot less than 20% weight to volume, but sugar needs to be 55% to 65% to have an effect.

    A quick look up of mut quat landed 1 recipe where you have to slice the fruit to remove the seeds, submerge in limewater (the mineral, not the fruit), then squeezing dry before cooking w/ a concentrated sugar solution.

    • Hmm… maybe that’s why the recipe I looked up online for the sweet version is more complicated:

      - rửa sạch quất, ngâm nước muối loãng dộ 1 h.
      - vớt ra, để ráo nước rồi rạch ngang mỗi quả 1 đường khoảng 1-2com, vắt bỏ bớt 1/2 nước chua (nước chua có thể đổ vào 1 cái chai, dùng gội đầu, hoặc pha nước uống

      - cân chỗ quất đã vắt bớt nửa nước xem được bao nhiêu thì cho vào 80% cân nặng đó = đường kính trắng. Ví dụ: 1 kg quất thì 800gr đường

      - cho thêm 1 thìa canh muối tinh

      - đổ thêm 1 bát ăn cơm nước sôi, rồi đậy kín lọ. Lọ phải thật sạch và khô khi cho quất,đường, muối vào thì nó mới không vị váng mốc.

    • Btw, I’m definitely not talking about mu’t qua’t, just preserved juice that is used in the summer, exactly the same as the salted version.

  3. Some other links on the sweet version with other fruits (which I never knew how to do, but I definitely saw some):


  1. [...] Our previous iterations were with chicken thighs, but we were very impressed with how well aged salted kumquat flavor worked with quails. This will be the version of this dish going forward. Grilled salted [...]

  2. [...] you’ll need to make your own salted kumquats. The process we used and posted is very simple – but it does take at least 2 months for the [...]

  3. [...] Salted kumquats: 6 fruits (minced) (optional) [...]

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