When the weather starts to change, the berries and tomatoes dissipate, the energy in the air shifts. The dynamics of cooking changes when fall rolls in, and the feeling of discovery often escapes us. I have been enthused to find something new this fall. Quince is a mystifying but delicious fruit. Astringent and inedible raw, but sweet, floral, honey in fruit form cooked. My first bite of cooked quince reminded me of honeysuckle in fruit form. Growing up, the neighborhood pool I would swim at almost daily during the summer had a giant honeysuckle bush growing outside. The flavor of quince is both delicious and tastes so nicely of nostalgia that my love for it was almost automatically cemented.
I’ve been playing around a few different ideas with quince, since I’m so infatuated. The first time around, something canner friendly was a must. Simply Recipe‘s quince jam seemed to be the perfect fit. I don’t quite have the patience for jelly, with it’s thermometers and draining. But once cored, quince shred up quickly in the food processor. My quince cooked down for quite a while, but never quite turned the magical rosy pink color the world raves about. On the plus side, the texture of this jam was more interesting than I expected. Because quince are very high in pectin, and my pot of quince simmered on low for at least 15 minutes longer than originally directed, this quince jam seemed to be something between a classic jam and the well known membrillo paste. And in that same vein, this jam pairs very nicely cheese, whether it is you classic manchego, chevre or any cheese on the pungent or sharp side.
Straight Up Quince Jam
- 2½ lbs quince [about 6 fruit]
- 4½ cups water
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 3 cups sugar
Makes about 3 half-pints.
Note: Quince oxidize [turn dark] quickly. While not mandatory, I recommend setting up a bowl of water with lemon juice [a few tablespoons of the bottled stuff for a few cups of water]. [These amounts are completely separate from the recipe's water and lemon amounts.]
Wash and quarter your quince, and place the pieces into the lemon water as you go. With a melon baller or paring knife, remove the quince cores. If you are using the food processor’s grating plate, the task is very fast. If not, use the large holes of a box grater to grate the quince, including the peel. Return the quince to the water as you go.
Using a large, heavy pan, bring the 4½ cups water to a boil. Add the drained, grated quince, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest. Reduce heat and simmer until the quince is soft, about 15 minutes.
Add the sugar and return to a boil again, stirring often to dissolve all of the sugar. Lower the heat to medium high. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until quince jam turns pink and thickens to desired consistency, about 45-65 minutes. Your jam should go rosy during this time, but if not, it will still be soft, sweet and edible.
Ladle into hot, sterilized canning jars. Before applying the lids, sterilize the lids by placing them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. Wipe the rims of the jars clean before applying the lids. From here, you could refrigerate and eat within a few months.
Or, seal them! Process in a canning pot full of boiling water for twenty minutes. Remove the jars from the canning pot and allow them to completely cool on a towel-lined countertop. Once cool, check the jars for proper seal, label and put em up!