Today has been quince day. Our small faithful tree has given us beautiful fragrant yellow fruit, and as the first ones have fallen, that is the sign that they are ready to be harvested.
Raw quince are really not nice to bite into, however left in a bowl in the kitchen they will fill the room with a beautiful fragrance. Once cooked, they are a wonderful seasonal fruit that can be stewed, poached, turned into paste or jam or made into delicious desserts such as a tarte tatin or crumble. Below is my recipe I tried tonight for lemon and quince paste – actually more like a firm quince jam because I am impatient with the long process of turning it into paste. However, with a cracker and delicious cheese, it is still divine – and in this recipe, the lemon flavour really pops out.
The recipe for quince paste is fairly simple…I ended up filling a jam pan with about 6kg of quince, and so simple math meant I needed 6 lemons and to allow around 6kg of sugar! Eek! However, as a condiment in moderation, it is totally permissible!
2kg of quince
Peel and juice of 2 large lemons
2 vanilla pods (optional)
2kg sugar (actual measurement made later in the recipe).
- Wash and dry quince, rubbing all the fuzz off with the tea towel.
- Quince are hard to cut, so a heavy, sharp knife is needed. I find it easier to stand the quince up, and cut down 4 times around the core, rather in quarters, as it is quite hard to cut the middle out. Chop the quince roughly and pop on the scales. When there is 2kg, transfer to a large jam pan.
- Keep the cores for later on…
- For every 2kg of quince, add the rind of 2 lemons, and then cover the pan with water.
- Bring to the boil, and stew for about 45 minutes or until soft.
- Strain and transfer to another pot. Using a stick blender, blend the stewed quince and lemon rind. (Or alternatively put batches through a food processor).
- With a cup measurement, transfer the blended quince back into the biggest jam pan you have, counting the cups as you go.
- For every cup of blended quince, add 1 cup of sugar, and the lemon juice of all the lemons used earlier.
- Grab some of the cores and lemon pips if you can be bothered, and place in a muslin cloth. Pop it in the pan and boil with the quince. The cores will add extra pectin for setting. Also at this stage, you could also place vanilla pods in the mixture (I would cut them length-ways and scrape out the contents and put everything back into the pan. I have also put cloves in a muslin bag to add a different flavour).
- Slowly – I mean as slowly as you can (because the bubbling quince will spit everywhere), bring it to the boil and boil for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally and with courage!
- The colour will change to a dark, deep red and go very thick.
- If you were making proper, traditional paste, the mixture would be transferred to a lined pan (no more than 2cm thick of quince) and popped into the oven (125 degrees C for 7-8 hours until dried and set.
- However as I lack patience, I finish after step 9 and fill sterilised jam jars with the beautiful red, sticky, gooey goodness!
For my next batch, I am thinking of different quince flavours that could be put together. I am thinking quince and ginger, quince and pear, quince and apple, quince and cloves might have to be some more mini batches to test flavours.
But for now…bon appétit!