A quince is a bit like a cross between a pear and apple, but not really edible raw – they’re beautiful poached, excellent when made into membrillo (a Spanish fruit paste to go with cheese), and really lovely when made into a jelly. I decided to take the jelly route after finding them in a grocer’s in Ipswich, as my mum used to make it every year. It’s really very easy to do as long as you have the right equipment (and if you don’t, you can improvise!).
Jelly bag (or clean pillow case, or cheesecloth, or muslin)
Four legged stool (or jelly bag stand)
Quinces (quantity unimportant, you will measure the juice to determine sugar requirements – I had 6 large ones which yielded 1 pint of juice)
- Scrub the quinces to remove any fuzz – remove the remnants of the blossom, and any stalks
- Without peeling or coring, chop the quinces into 1 inch chunks and toss them into your preserving pan
- Add enough water to make them float, then bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for 1.5-2 hours until the flesh of the quince pieces is pulpy and has changed colour (to orange/red)
- Strain the quinces through your jelly bag (or improvised bag) – DO NOT SQUEEZE THE BAG! If you squeeze the bag, the jelly will be cloudy. Be patient and let it drip overnight into a large bowl
- Measure the juice you’ve got the next day – for every 1 pint of juice, you will need 1lb of sugar
- Pour the juice and requisite amount of sugar into your preserving pan and stir continuously on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil
- Boil rapidly for around 20-25 minutes until setting point is reached, while boiling remove any scum that appears on top of the mixture with a slotted spoon
- Pour into warm, sterilised jars
Improvising a jelly bag and stand:
The traditional method is to upturn a tall, four legged stool and tie a muslin across the top, a corner of cloth to each leg – this creates a “bag” to strain the fruit through and you can place a bowl in the bottom on the seat to catch the juice. Alternatively, you can purchase ready made bags with stands that fit onto the top of a bowl, OR, if you have an industrious partner, they can build you something like my husband did (shown below).