Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quince Jelly

This week in the small mountain kingdom of Trelystan we are getting to grips with our quince harvest. The Nation's jam pan has come off the shelf and been dusted down for some jelly-making action.
Of our 3 small trees, all of which we planted not quite 4 years ago, 2 have fruited abundantly. The furry, yellow fruits hang heavily and with this week's windy weather have been ripe enough to fall. Time to get picking. Just gathering those from the ground and those within easy reach yielded a good sized basketful. I dust off the curious downy coating and chop them into chunks. No need to peel. Cover with water and lob in a squeezed lemon or two. (Just In Case. I can't remember if they are rich in pectin or not.) Let them bubble away gently until they 'fall'. The kitchen is infused with their sweet honeyed perfume - far prettier and more exotic than that of the apple.

The Quince is a fruit with history, greatly revered in ancient times - its cultivation may well pre-date that of the apple. Were quince the 'golden apples', the paradisal fruit, in the Garden of the Hesperides or the apples in the Song of Solomon? Even in Britain, not too many centuries ago its taste and fragrance were much admired - but like so many things which take time and patience in preparation quince seem to have gone out of fashion. What a shame that is - they are the most wonderous of fruit. I treasure our little trees - not only at this time of year when they reward us with fruit but in the springtime too when delicate, papery, pink petals unfold over waxy dark leaves. Heavenly.


I've gone off at a tangent....

What next? We let the softened fruit drip through a jelly bag overnight - the resultant juice is pink and clear and fragrant. Sugar is added, stirred and dissolved. It takes about 10 minutes at a wonderful rolling boil to reach setting point - at last the jelly flakes off the spoon. I know it will set now. All is well. But just why does a golden yellow fruit become a crystal clear red jelly?

My basket of fruit makes 12 jars of Quince Jelly, now neatly labelled, to go on the shelves to eat with scones or toast, or alongside pork or poultry - something bright to lighten the long dark days of winter.


14 comments:

Preseli Mags said...

Oh wow! Such beautiful fruit and such a gorgeous result. It all looks like a work of art, but I bet it's delicious too.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

Thank you for mine - have made the jelly - and this time it worked! Doesn't it smell divine?

elizabethm said...

Looks wonderful. We had hardly any quinces this year but your harvest looks bountiful. I wonder why?

rachel said...

Your description of making that glorious jelly made me yearn for a garden in which to grow quinces.... One day....

patsy said...

How I covet your quince trees Mountainear! Always wanted some...perhaps next garden..!
Is quince jelly similar to Spanish membrillo? I often serve cubes of that with cheese.

Wipso said...

I have one very small quince plant and occasionally have a few fruit on it. I have always just picked them and kept them in a bowl in the house for their smell but you may have tempted me to make some jelly now. Thanks. A x

Twiglet said...

I am not sure about quinces - are they the same as the little fruit on the shrub with the pink flowers? - ha thats not helpful is is it - I will have to google it! love the red jars of jelly - so tempting!

mountainear said...

I wonder if the shrub with the pink flowers is Chaenomeles? - otherwise known as Japanese Quince.

And yes, its fruit makes a lovely jelly.

Fennie said...

Grand. Now I now what to do. There's a quince tree at the Mill and I've brought home (or rather Rosie is bringing home for me) a few quinces. Do all quinces turn red on cooking - only I put one in with some stewed apple at the Mill and it didn't (turn red).

Liked your musings on the Golden Apples of the Hesperides! How interesting.

Pondside said...

I wonder if quince will grow over here? I'd certainly like to try some quince jelly, as I can't even imagine what it might be like. I'll have to check out the import food shop - perhaps find a jar now that my curiosity has been piqued.

ChrisH said...

Those jewell-like jars are very beautiful and thank you too for showing us what to do with quinces (there was a quince tree in a garden of one of the houses we viewed so I shall be better informed if I become its owner!).

hand-knitted muesli said...

Have you tried making Quince Honey? There is more prep work involved but the result is so delicious, it's worth a go.

Pam said...

Lovely pictures & great post. I was going to ask the same question as Twiglet as I've seen Chaenomeles here in the States and wondered if I could make jelly?

Tattie Weasle said...

What a glorious colour! I tried my hand at Staawberry Jam the other day ansd was surprised how easy it was - you make the Qunice Jelly seem easy too. Now I have quinces...