The Cottage Smallholder

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Quince jelly and other quince recipes revisited

quinces on plateI decided last week to turn some of the quinces from Anna’s garden into something delicious. I rubbed off the fluff, cut them into chunks and covered them with water and the zest of a lemon. They were simmering on the gentlest setting (lid on) for about four hours until they softened and the juice took on that deep pink hue.

I strained the juice through a jelly bag overnight and popped both the juice and the strained flesh into the fridge. I was delighted to discover that both keep happily in the fridge for a couple of weeks. 800g of quinces and 850ml (1.5 pints) of water made 600ml of thickish juice that I am going to dilute a bit before venturing to make our delicious jelly. The fruit pulp will be seived and turned into quince cheese or Membrillo.

However, neither the quinces nor the juice have quite the same rich colour of a photograph of poached quinces that I saw last year. Towards the end of 2006 I read two wonderful posts about quinces written by Melissa from The Traveller’s Lunchbox. The first is an exquisite reminiscence of her first taste of membrillo and a good recipe. The second is a lazy way to make poached quinces and a vibrant red quince cordial. The photo on this post has stuck in my mind ever since.

Lying awake last night, I remembered Melissa’s posts and recipes. Although the laptop was propped beside the bed and D was sleeping soundly beside me, I didn’t like to fire it up just a foot away from his pillow. It has inbuilt speakers and is quite a vociferous machine.

So I crept downstairs and leafed through our abridged Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management that we keep in the loo. She suggests a long cooking time, at least 3 hours, and the addition of cochineal (if desperate). I am not that desperate.

Surely one could make Membrillo out of the quinces in both recipes and jelly out of the quince infused water. You would need to leave out the sugar during the baking stage of the poached quince (recpe 2) and probably reduce the liquid a bit after the baking stage.

What do you think?

Also, on the subject of quinces, I found this gorgeous site today with some ancient recipes for making quince paste and setting it in beautiful moulds. These would make wonderful Christmas presents. We have some old glass bowls that belonged to my grandmother that have a star pattern cut into the base. They would make a good mould if the paste was not too hot.

Update. We ow have our own recipe for membrillo here.

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  1. I noticed a request about for Quince Liquer recipes. Every year I manage to find some quinces to make Quince Brandy, which is the quintessential taste of Christmas.
    Grate quinces to give 6 cups of fruit (this is usually about 2 very large quinces)
    In a kilner jar (or similar) mix 2 cups sugar & 2 cups water. Add the grated quinces, 1 tsp cinnamon, 4 whole cloves and a bottle vodka. Shake well than place on a sunny window ledge for at least a few weeks, shaking every day if possible. I then usually leave till christmas in a cupboard then strain and filter. This year I’ve also tried adding some ground mixed spice. The recipe also says to add another cup of sugar, but last year’s batch was too sweet for my taste so trying with only 2 cups this year.

  2. I have made some Quince jelly but now looking for recipes to use it other than putting it on toast and eating it with cheese. Does anybody know of any?

  3. I’ve just read through the comments when looking for general info re crab apple and quince, jelly.I found Adam’s entry very amusing-love the ideas about formication and quinsy,which my sister suffered from some years ago (quite unpleasant in reality).
    Our parents used to have a quince bush,but I haven’t seen one for years.Where could one be acquired or bought?

  4. el olivo

    Help!! Made quince jelly yesterday and its set in the bottom of the pan and on the plate but not in the jars.So I´m boiling it again,its getting darker but doesn´t seem to be setting. Can anyone help me,what did I do wrong? It tastes too sweet, but I can live with that as long as it sets!

    • Fiona Nevile

      Hi el olivo

      Try adding the sieved juce of a lemon, this will help with setting. If the jelly has set in the pan and on the plate it probably
      would have set in the jars after a few days.

  5. Pauline

    I have my pulp & juice straining as we speak, going to try for the cheese tomorrow, and the jelly with the juice. I still have about 5kg of quince left, but if this is successful, I was thinking about jars for xmas gifts, will it last till then?

  6. Just made your quince jelly recipe and it is just fabulous! Thanks for sharing it.

  7. Lorraine Thompson

    I have just been given some lovely quinces & have some of them poaching in my Slow Cooker. I’m going to try the Membrillo as I have been told about it by a Client. I have a recipe for Quince Sauce (rather like Tomato sause) & also a Quince Tipple. I’ m happy to send if you would like them. Lorraine in New Zealand

  8. You may also want to try this Quince Tarte Tatin from David Lebovitz’s blog “Living the Sweet Life in Paris”

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Helen

    I love the idea of poaching quinces in the slow cooker. Thanks for the tip.

    We lost our quince tree this year but someone has offered me quinces so all is well 🙂

    Great that you enjoyed your visit.

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