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. Pumpkin~Power

    Just wondered if anyone has a recipe for Quince Liquer at all? I made Membrillo last year but made so much I have heaps left (yummy though it is!) so thought I should try something different this year. Any suggestions gratefully recieved. Thanks Pumpkin

  2. Quince jam is delicious too- like the jelly, a wonderfully deep pinky-orange, with a lovely grainy texture.
    Take 6lbs quinces, peeled (use a potato peeler) cored & chopped, boil together with 3 pints water until soft, then mash with a potato masher. Add 1lb sugar to every 1pt of mush, and make jam as usual. (Do stir occasionally to stop sticking, taking normal care not to get splashed.) Yield c10lb.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sabine

    Lucky you, finding quinces in Borough Market. It is a wonderful place for foodies!

    The home made jelly and membrillo is so much better than the shop bought stuff.

    Thanks for leaving a comment. Much appreciated.

  4. I made the jelly and membrillo today – only a tiny quantity, mind you, but it’s gorgeous! The membrillo is so much more fragrant than the stuff we used to buy in Spain…
    Thank you for sharing all those wonderful recipes with us!

  5. Hi Fiona,

    what a wonderful website! I’ve been lurking for a while and recently, I’ve been going straight to your blog for any preserving recipes.
    Having been on the lookout for quinces for most of the winter, I finally found some a couple of weeks ago at London Borough market. So, they are simmering away now, and I’ll be curious to see the outcome, given that it’s really late in the season, now. When I lived in a community in Spain, we had lots of quince trees, but never had the time to do anything with the fruit… what a shame! So, I’ll try my hand at jelly and membrillo . Did you know the Spanish recommend membrillo as a remedy against diarrea?

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Peter

    I am so sorry, your comment got caught in the spam filter and I found it this morning.

    I’d love to hear how you get on with cooking your quinces.

  7. Peter George

    Well well, at last a recipe for quince jelly. We have a mature quince tree in our lovely town ( Georgian) garden and now have loads of fruit so am going to give this recipe a go this week-end. Will let you all know.
    Many thanks

  8. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Adam,

    Great to have collected 1.5 kilos of sloes despite the attack of ants in your pants.

    Thanks for the tip about using honey in sloe gin.

  9. Adam Marshall

    Phew! Last Sunday I was left truncated on the steep slopes of Westerham churchyard, after unwittingly standing on the nest-mound of a billion panic-stricken red ants, a convenient platform for me to reach and pluck the last handfuls of this summer’s sloes from high twigs bulging with bunches of blue-black fruit. But unseen ants galloped up grass stalks bulging with the bodies of six billion synchronised legs to reach my twin pillers of trousered terror crushing the perfect craftwork of their subterranean city. Then followed the experience of plunging into leglessness in Westerham churchyard. For human fruit-gatherers, the correct word for the sensation of a billion red ants making free beneath one’s underwear is ‘formication’ [].

    Sloes may seem to be be off-topic for this quince thread, but remember that ants have not yet evolved fruit-specific tendencies, so quinceurs are just as liable as sloefolk to post-formicatory shock. Indeed, there is good reason to suppose that it was the crafty-legged ant, not some silly legless serpent, which was un-noticed by truncated Adam as his eyelids collapsed in the dumb reverie of knowinglessness in the Garden of Eden. Similarly, Eve standing innocently on a grassy knoll, stretched with curiosity to reach that luminously big perfumed and deep down-covered yellow quince from the tree of the fruit of all knowledge… unwittingly opening herself to the six-fold leg-over-leg of that stalking ant…

    After my recovery, 1,500g of sloes were brought home, most for preparing sloe gin (try adding good honey instead of tasteless refined sugar, for its extra-balsamic liquer-lingering nuance; and you don’t need to prick every fruit – osmotic pressure and natural diffusion processes in time will reach the same sublime omega point). The remainder of the sloes were flash-boiled with the last umbels of elderberries, found drooping over the footpath leading from Westerham car park to Quebec House. These par-boiled fruit are now lying in state, awaiting the imminant tranche of freshly prepared quince-shreddings from next door’s tree. The natural pink of quince extract for jelly is lovely but I’m not a purist – I used a remainder of last year’s pure quince (and honey!) this year to bolster the jellatinisation of a batch of this year’s bramblejelly [sorry, Mark], I’m happy with a brilliant purple blizzard of autumn anthocyanins and polyphenols. Later, I’m even prepared to slap this onto a slab of Cranks organic wholemeal over a layer of rough peanut butter. Better still, it’s time to make another loaf of hybrid stoneground flours, deoxidised with raw olive, sesame and walnut oils etc…a luxuriantly meaty loaf to support all sweet or savoury foods.

    WARNING: There is a neglected Shakespearean disease known as quinsy. If you are inclined to quince-yearning, please be sure that you feel comfortable with this fruit.

    Off to Suffolk next week; if pigs and rooks can eat acorns…

  10. Fiona Nevile

    HI Mark,

    Thank you so much for your quince tricks and tips! I am making quince jelly this evening and next time will poach the quince in chamomile tea and crack the pips!

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