This recipe is my grand-mother’s, Mam. It is a two in one recipe. Once you have put your hands on quinces, you will be able with the same quinces and sugar, to make a batch of Quince jelly or jam and a batch of quince paste under the form of a paste to serve with a cheese platter or under the shape of quince cubes, lovely with coffee, snack, kids’ lunch boxes.
Mam started to cook late in life with no knowledge to start with. She was lucky enough to have been raised with help and had a cook at home for years. But at one stage, when the kids were gone, she didn’t and she has to cook for herself and my grand-father.
Strangely enough, she got the instant knack of it! What she cooks is always extraordinary. And when you ask her: “Wow! How did you make that?” She invariably answers: “I don’t know, it’s simple, I just whizzed it up.” She is incapable of explaining what she did. It’s crazy!
So the only way to copy one of her treasure recipes is to stay behind her shoulder and keep track of what is going on, asking question while it’s happening. You will see, this recipe has no precise quantities, as usual with Mam. Don’t worry, it will be extraordinary. Just trust the indications she gave me.
It all starts with picking or buying and choosing the best fruits. They have to be ripe (a good yellow, no green). The smell is a good indication too! They have this subtle but delicious fragrance. Take the ones smelling the strongest. Don’t let them wait too long in your fruit bowl (as I always do…) But don’t worry too much if you do. You will still make a delicious jam.
Mam’s technique is to simply rinse them under running water, don’t rub them or extensively wash them.
Then she cuts them in 4 pieces aiming at cutting through the “heart” of each quince to get to the seeds. They are the ones which contain the pectin, a jellying agent. Cutting through them, releasing them. It will cut them too and all these seeds will be releasing their jelly magic in the juice.
Tip the cut quinces in a large pot and cover them with water. Yes I know. It doesn’t matter how many quinces you use or how much water precisely. What matters is that you just cut them in four and cover the lot with water. They can float so just press them down with your hand to check the water level.
You will bring the quinces to the boil in the covered pot and leave it to simmer for 40 mins.
The simply tip the quinces in a colander over a large bowl and let it drip while you get your scale and some sugar. This is so typical… I couldn’t find any sugar! And in this recipe you need to weigh the juice that comes out. Pressing a little on the quinces (with your hands if they have cooled or a ladle if hot). Do not press too much, you don’t want to get white stuff in your pretty juice.
The best sugar mix to use here is pectin enriched sugar (in supermarket), caster sugar and a bit of raw sugar or crushed sugar canes to give it a bit of a caramelly taste.
Weigh you juice. Weigh the same amount of sugar.
Bring them to the boil for the time indicated on the pectin sugar packet. If you are not using it, just boil for 20 mins. The secret is to keep a plate in the freezer. After 10 mins of boiling let a drop of quince syrup fall on the icy cold plate. If it looks jellied, then you can stop. If not, keep on testing your syrup until jellied.
You can also add extra pectin and boil the syrup for a lot less. Chose your weapon and go for it.
Pour the boiling syrup in the clean jam jars. It is important to do this when the syrup is boiling. It will keep you jam impeccable (no mould) for ages. To do that with no mess at all, I cannot recommend enough the special jam funnel :) One of my favourite accessories in the kitchen. You can find one in the US HERE or in France HERE.
Once each jar is filled with the jam, screw the clean cap on very tight and turn it upside down. It will create a vacuum which will protect your jam from mould. Leave them to cool down on a tea towel overnight. Don’t move them. Let the jelly set.
For this batch, I used 4 massive quinces, it yielded 1 litre of juice. I used 1 kilo of sugar (500g of pectin sugar, 400g of caster sugar and a bit, 100g of crushed and powdered sugar cane)
The jelly should be set after a night and look like a beautiful gem. It is delicious with French salted butter or Blue Lurpak Danish butter.
You can keep it in your pantry for months and once open, you can keep it for a few weeks in the fridge.
Wait! It is not finished! As I said to start this article, this recipe is a two in one. Don’t chuck the quince quarters! You will now puree them to make a wonderful quince paste. But note that by the time you will have finished pureeing and cooking the puree with sugar, you will have to stay another hour in the kitchen. If you do not have time, don’t worry, freeze your quince purée or refrigerate it overnight (max) with a plastic film in full contact with its surface.
Find the Quince paste or Quince cubes recipe on THIS PAGE. Try it, it’s delicious and keeps for a long time (well if you leave some…).
- Quinces, the number you want, I used 4 big ones
- Caster sugar (depending on the juice the quinces will yield). You can also use 50/50 caster sugar and pectin enriched sugar (guarantee for a nicely set jelly). Or my favourite : 50% pectin enriched sugar, 40% caster sugar, 10% cane sugar. Or any combination really. And of course, you can use 100% caster sugar with a packet of pectin. for jams.
- Half a lemon juiced
- Rinse quickly your quinces under running water.
- Cut them in 4.
- Place them in a large pot (with lid).
- Pour water until you cover them.
- Bring to the boil. Then simmer for 40 mins.
- Tip the quinces in a fine sieve (using a cheese cloth if you want a crystal clear jelly which I don't) over a large bowl.
- Press a little on the quinces (with your hands if they have cooled or a ladle if hot). Do not press too much, you don't want to get white stuff in your pretty juice.
- Weigh the juice.
- Weigh the same weight in sugar (any mix you want - see ingredients)
- Boil juice, sugar and lemon juice for 45 mins if you put only caster sugar or caster and a bit of cane. Follow the packet instruction if you used pectin enriched sugar.
- If foam appears on top scoop it out with a straining ladle.
- A trick to check if the jelly is set, while you are boiling the syrup, keep a plate in the fridge or even the freezer. After 40 mins, let a drop of syrup fall on the cold plate. If it sets, you're good to go :)
- Pour the boiling syrup in the clean jam jars. It is important to do this when the syrup is boiling. It will keep you jam impeccable (no mould) for ages. To do that with no mess at all, I cannot recommend enough the special jam funnel. I give the link in the article above.
- Once each jar is filled with the jam, screw the clean cap on very tight and turn it upside down. It will create a vacuum which will protect your jam from mould. Leave them to cool down on a tea towel overnight. Don't move them. Let the jelly set.
- Don't forget not to discard the boiled quinces and follow the next recipe to make Quince Cubes (paste).