Quince Jelly: Weird & Wonderful

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!).

Equipment:

Preserving pan

Jelly bag (or clean pillow case, or cheesecloth, or muslin)

Four legged stool (or jelly bag stand)

Ingredients:

Quinces (quantity unimportant, you will measure the juice to determine sugar requirements – I had 6 large ones which yielded 1 pint of juice)

Preserving/jam sugar

Water

Method:

  • 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).

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Golden quinces in all their glory
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Super industrious stand constructed by my husband
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The finished product.  Yum!
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