Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, October 15

Gapers Block

Gapers Block on Facebook Gapers Block on Flickr Gapers Block on Twitter The Gapers Block Tumblr


What do you do when you find yourself in possession of a shopping bag full of kumquats? Eat one or two everyday and swear off all other fruit until they're gone? Throw them away and don't tell the giver what you've done? Or turn them into a tasty beverage that is the perfect summertime sipper?

Kumquats are hard to come by at this time of year. They're usually easier to find in the late winter or early spring at your grocery store, and even then may be impossible to find. These odd, little fruits about the size of a golf ball, that you eat like a grape (skin and all) look like teeny-tiny oranges. But, they aren't even a citrus fruit. They're actually in the Fortunella family, along with five other Asian citrus-like items.

Why am I telling you about fruit that you won't be able to find until this winter? Because I had a bunch of them and I had to do something with them. And the method I came up with can be used with the more typical citrus fruits we do have access to: oranges, lemons, limes. I turned my kumquats into kumquat-ade, but you could make lemon-ade, lime-ade, orange-ade, ?-ade.

A girl can get tired of drinking water all the time. She also occasionally has people to her home and wants to whip up something delectable, but easy and refreshing. I'll provide you with directions on how to make fruit-ade as well as mint tea (or juleps) and white sangria. Got a favorite hot-weather beverage that I'm not mentioning? That's what the comments are for.

1 pound of citrus fruit
1 cup of sugar (Splenda also works great)
Fresh mint sprigs and a few fruit slices for garnish

Most of the flavor of citrus fruit actually resides in the skin. Cut each piece of citrus in half. Squeeze as much of the juice as you can get out of the fruit into your two-quart pitcher, then cut each half into quarters or smaller and place them into a large saucepan. Sprinkle the sugar across the fruit and fill the pan with water, cover and turn the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then turn off and let cool for 15 minutes. Pour the water into the pitcher, straining out the fruit. Fill the pitcher with more water and return to a medium-high burner. Bring to a boil, let cool again, and then strain and add the liquid to the pitcher. Add to glasses filled with ice, a lemon slice, and a sprig of mint, and serve.

Mint Tea
1 handful of fresh mint, washed and stems removed
8 cups of boiling water
3 to 5 tablespoons of sugar, or honey

Add water and sugar or honey to a saucepan and turn to medium high. Hold the leaves in your hands over the pan and rub your hands together before dropping the leaves into the pan. This bruises the leaves and permits the flavor to come out of the leaves easier. Bring just to a boil before turning off the heat and letting it sit for 3 minutes. Pour over ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

Mint Julep
1 handful of fresh mint
2 cups of boiling water
1 cup of sugar

Bring the water and sugar to boil in a saucepan and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cool to room temperature. Pat yourself on the back -- you just made a simple syrup. Place four or five mint leaves in a heavy pint glass. Using a wooden spoon crush the mint against the sides or bottom of the glass. Pour 2 ounces of syrup into the glass, fill with ice, and then add 2 ounces of bourbon. An alternative way to make this is to put all of the mint into a bowl and crush the mint in the bowl. Add the syrup to the bowl and refrigerate 1 to 2 hours before serving. Fill a glass with ice, add 2 ounces of syrup and 2 ounces of bourbon and serve.

White Wine Sangria

I gotta give props out to Ms. Anne Holub for introducing me to this lighter version of a summertime favorite.

Choose three: apple, orange, peach, banana, 1 cup of cherries, 2 plums
1 large bottle or 2 small bottles of white wine (cheap wine is great for this)
1/4 cup simple syrup (see mint julep recipe)
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brandy
Sprite or soda water

Chop your fruit into small, bite-sized pieces and put in the bottom of a very large pitcher. Pour the wine, simple syrup, orange juice, and brandy over the fruit. Add several cups of Sprite (if you like a sweeter sangria) or soda (if you like a less sweet drink) to fill up the pitcher. Let sit in the refrigerator for 2 to 8 hours before you plan of serving. Serve with some of the fruit in each glass.

GB store


amyc / August 10, 2004 3:57 PM

I can vouch for the tastiness of the kumquat-ade. It tastes like popsicles or some other familiar flavor of childhood.

Alice / August 10, 2004 6:11 PM

Yes, the kumquat-ade was very yummy. Delicately flavored and neither too sweet nor too tart.

emily / August 12, 2004 12:11 PM

Cinnamon, I was going to ask you for the sangria recipe...deeeelicious! I love drinks with food in them.

Cinnamon / August 12, 2004 12:54 PM

Of course you have to taste it as it goes to make sure that the flavors are blending correctly. Taste it right after everything is assembled and then taste it after a couple of hours. You'll be amazed at the difference, especially in the fruit.

anne / August 13, 2004 11:24 AM

Thanks for the props Cinnamon! You can also skip the Brandy and use Triple Sec for some oomph. I found that you have to add some more wine (oh drat) to cut the tart-ness, but it is mmm mmm good. Definitely a good one to make the night before a party, then add whatever fizzy drinks (try lime-flavored seltzer!) you want to give it some bubbles. The fruit at the bottom of the glass is the best treat. My advice is taste often thoughout, as every time I've made this it needs some fiddling during the whole process.


About the Author(s)

If you have a favorite ingredient you'd love to see written about, send your request to and it may be included in a future column.

GB store

GB Store

GB Buttons $1.50

GB T-Shirt $12

I ✶ Chi T-Shirts $15