We have been very fortunate to have a friend with a Quince tree…and so been busy with this fascinating fruit.They are the weirdest thing…they look like a cross between a pear and an apple with fur…you can’t eat them without cooking them or they will turn your head inside out!….BUT… Cook them and they morph into something completely different.
I have to be honest I have never tried them before so it’s been an adventure… so far I’ve made Quince Paste and Jelly – the colours are amazing!! I have to say that the colour of the jelly is just beautiful…and the taste…..YUM!!!!…I am a definite convert!
QUINCE JELLY RECIPE
- 3 1/2 lbs of quince, washed, stems removed, cored, quartered (leave skin on)
- 7 cups water
- Enough sugar to add almost a cup of sugar (about 7/8 cup) for every cup of juice (about 4 cups)
- 1 wide 6 or 8-quart pan (Stainless steel or copper with stainless steel lining)
- Metal strainer (2)
- Potato masher
- paraffin (if you are going to seal with paraffin, otherwise use lidded canning jars – the method I prefer)
- Canning jars
- Candy thermometer
Cooking the Quince
1 Put quince pieces in a large heavy bottomed pot and add water (there should enough water to cover the pieces of quince by about an inch.)
2 Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook, until the quince pieces are soft (about 45 minutes to an hour).
Mashing the pulp
3 With a potato masher, mash the quince to the consistency of slightly runny applesauce. Add more water if necessary. If the mash is too thick, you won’t get enough juice out of it.
George testing the consistency of the quince pulp
Straining juice from pulp with cheesecloth
4 To strain the juice from the pulp, place a metal strainer over a pot. Drape 2 layers of cheesecloth over the strainer. (Can skip the cheesecloth if you are using a fine mesh strainer). Ladle the pulp into the cheesecloth. You may need to have two strainers set up this way. Let the pulp strain for 3 to 4 hours. If you aren’t getting enough juice out of the pulp, you may need to mix more water into the mash.
Measure the juice and add sugar
5 Measure the amount of juice you have. Should be about 4 to 5 cups. Pour into a thick-bottomed pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Measure out the sugar – a little less than a cup for every cup of juice. Add sugar to the juice.
Second stage of cooking
6 Bring to a boil, initially stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved, so that the sugar does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Insert a thermometer to monitor the jelly temperature.
7 As the jelly cooks, skim off the foam that comes to the surface with a spoon.
8 As the jelly is boiling, in a separate pan, melt some paraffin wax for a seal and sterilise jars.
9 As the temperature rises above the boiling point of water (212°F), the consistency of the jelly/juice begins to change. When the temperature is approximately 8 degrees higher than boiling point at your altitude (anywhere from 220°F to 222°F at sea level) the jelly is ready to pour into jars.
Note that candy thermometers aren’t always the most reliable indicators of whether or not a jelly is done. Another way to test is put a half teaspoonful of the jelly on a chilled (in the freezer) plate. Allow the jelly to cool a few seconds, then push it with your fingertip. If it wrinkles up, it’s ready.
Preparing the jars
10 There are several ways to sterilise jars.
- Run them through a short cycle on your dishwasher.
- You can place them in a large pot of water on top of a steaming rack (so they don’t touch the bottom of the pan), and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes.
- Or you can rinse out the jars, dry them, and place them, without lids, in 200°F oven for 10 minutes.
- Use a large ladle to pour the jelly into the sterilized jars to 5/8 inch from the top rim of the jar.
- Pour in enough melted paraffin to add a 1/4 inch layer of wax. The paraffin will float to the top, cool, and harden forming a seal over the jelly as it cools. (If you aren’t using paraffin, use canning jars with canning lids (sterilise the lids by letting them sit in just boiled hot water for a few minutes).
You will hear a popping noise as a vacuum seal is created as the jars of jelly cool.
MEMBRILLO (Quince Paste) RECIPE.
- 4 pounds quince, washed, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
- 1 vanilla pod, split
- 2 strips (1/2 inch by 2 inches each) of lemon peel (only the yellow peel, no white pith)
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- About 4 cups of granulated sugar, exact amount will be determined during cooking
1 Place quince pieces in a large saucepan (6-8 quarts) and cover with water. Add the vanilla pod and lemon peel and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook until the quince pieces are fork tender (takes about 30-40 minutes but if longer stick with it until they are tender so it makes purée easier).
2 Strain the water from the quince pieces. Discard the vanilla pod but keep the lemon peel with the quince. Purée the quince pieces in a food processor, blender, or by using a food mill. Measure the quince purée. The amount of sugar you need….whatever amount of quince purée you have, that’s how much sugar. So if you have 4 cups of purée, you’ll need 4 cups of sugar. Return the quince purée to the large pan. with the heat on medium-low. Add the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the lemon juice.
3 Continue to cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1-1 1/2 hours, until the quince paste is very thick and has a deep orange pink color.
4 Preheat oven to a low 125°F (52°C). Line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper (I have read on other recipes the warning …do not use wax paper, it will melt!). Grease the parchment paper with a thin coating of butter. Pour the cooked quince paste into the parchment paper-lined baking pan. Smooth out the top of the paste so it is even. Place in the oven for about an hour to help it dry. Remove from oven and let cool.
To serve, cut into squares or wedges and present with cheese.
I’ve tried eating different kinds of crackers to check the tastes. I do like it with a plain salted cracker or one with black pepper. Onto that a small slice of the Membrillo and goats cheese or camembert or brie. Combinations I am sure are endless but my personal opinion is it needs to be a relatively mild cheese or it overpowers the taste of the Quince.
Store by wrapping in foil or plastic wrap, and keep in the fridge.
My thoughts on making this~
- In part 3 of the method – Cook the quince until the colour becomes quite deep and it does get very thick. This I am convinced makes the drying out bit much more effective.
- When drying the paste out don’t put in too thick a layer because that will make drying out harder and you can get a situation where the top part sets, but the bottom doesn’t.
- If you do have a paste that doesn’t set properly empty the quince paste into a large pyrex bowl and put in the microwave. I cooked it on high in 5 minute increments for 20 minutes. Just mind as it can start to catch around the edges and go brown which is not what you want! If need be continue cooking but reduce the power level of the microwave and if you get any brown bits cut them off because they are foul! If you don’t have a microwave then pop it back on a very low heat on the stove and cook for a while longer to try and remove more of the water content. Then put back into the oven for an hour.