A friend of ours who works at a living museum in the neighboring town of Bensberg gifted us some of the quinces that he was harvesting from the museum’s quince trees when we happened to make a visit there last fall. I had never seen a quince tree before, actually, and was surprised at how closely the fruit resembled an apple and a pear. They are extremely hard little fruits and I wouldn’t recommend biting into one unless you want to lose a tooth. I have heard wonderful things about quince jam/jelly so I knew exactly what I wanted to do with our bounty of quinces.
Make jam! I started off with a recipe that I found online for quince jam, which uses the flesh of the quince, grated finely and cooked down with some water, lemon juice and plenty of sugar. The quince flesh is white and mealy like that of a pear but hard as a rock until you cook it down and then it turns to a lovely shade of pale pink and after several hours of simmering it will darken to a deep and vibrant red. It’s a lovely transformation but it takes time…
We enjoyed our jam last fall but I didn’t like the mealy texture of the quince in the jam all that much. So this time I tried it again, with more quinces from our friend’s workplace (we have a quince supplier!), straining the fruit pieces out after cooking them down to make quince jelly!
The jelly came out really delicious and looks quite lovely too. The photos here are of my jam experiment but the jelly will come out looking just the same, only clearer. It’s great on toast in the morning or paired with bread and crackers or cheese as a snack. And I love the sophisticated taste of this jelly. Whether you add the cardamom or not, it really has a unique flavor that goes well with just about anything and its color is guaranteed to liven up any plate. If you can get your hands on some quinces try this recipe out and surprise your Valentine with this sweet treat, perhaps?
Adapted from Martha Stewart
- 4 pounds slightly underripe quinces, washed well and cut into pieces (including skin and core)
- 7 cups water
- 4 cups sugar
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1 – 2 tablespoons ground Cardamom
- Place quinces in a large pot. Add water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, covered, until dark pink and very soft, about 3+ hours.
- Strain through a fine sieve, pressing out liquid and discarding any solids. (You should have 4 cups liquid. If you don’t, adjust the amount of sugar used in step 3 to maintain a 1:1 ratio.)
- Bring quince juice, sugar, lemon juice, and cardamom to a simmer in a large saucepan over high heat. Cook until thick and a candy thermometer registers 220. Plate-test jelly to make sure it is set. Pour into sterilized glass jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace at the top. Process in a boiling hot water bath for 10 minutes and let stand overnight to fully set before using. Store in the fridge once opened.