The quince is one of the strangest fruits. It is related to apples and pears, and looks like a strange overgrown yellow pear with downy "bum fluff" all over its skin. Quinces must be peeled and cooked before being eaten, as the uncooked flesh is pale, woody, bitter and unyielding. However, once cooked, the flesh becomes soft, dark pink and slightly tart.
I adore quince jelly and have always wanted to make my own. When the opportunity arose to acquire some quinces, I was determined to make quince jelly. Jelly is made using reduced fruit juice, as opposed to the whole fruit, like jam.
Flicking through my cookbooks, I found a recipe for quince and orange jelly in Greg and Lucy Malouf's Saraban - A Chef's Journey Through Persia. I liked the idea of combining the flavours of quince and orange, so this is the recipe I went with.
I was surprised at how easy the jelly was to make. It has to be made over a couple of days, as the boiled fruit must drain overnight and only the juice is used to make the jelly. However, the jelly itself comes together quite easily. The finished product is delicious, although I think the orange to some extent overwhelms the quince. It can be enjoyed straight out of the jar (my preference!), or on crumpets, toast or icecream, or melted to make a glaze for pies and tarts.
To make your own quince and orange jelly, you will need:
1kg quince, washed and dried
1kg Seville oranges, peeled and pith removed
Chop the quinces and oranges roughly. The quinces do not have to be peeled or cored (which is a relief, because they are quite a challenge to peel and core!). Put the fruit into a large, heavy based saucepan, cover with water, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and allow the fruit to simmer for 45 minutes or until the quinces are tender.
Strain the fruit overnight through muslin or a clean Chux wipe, catching the juice in a clean bowl. Just allow the juices to drip through and don't press on the fruit to avoid the juices becoming cloudy.
The next day, measure how much juice you have collected, then pour it into a large heavy based saucepan. For every 500ml of juice, add 400g of sugar to the pan. Stir the juice and sugar mixture over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring the mixture to the boil, and continue to boil it for ~ 25 minutes or until the jelly reaches setting point. You test for setting point by chilling a saucer in the fridge, then dropping a small amount of jelly onto the chilled saucer and running your finger through it. If this causes the jelly on the plate to wrinkle, it is at setting point.
Remove the jelly from the heat and skim all the froth off the top. Pour the jelly into sterilised glass jars (remove any labels and boil the jars and lids or heat them in the oven at 180 degrees for ten minutes or so) and seal the jars while still hot. You should fill the jars so that there is only a small gap between the jelly and the lid to create the best seal. Allow the jelly to cool in the jars.
The jelly will keep for 12 months, so you can enjoy it until next quince season. Alternatively, you can share it with your friends, which is what I did (keeping a jar for me, of course).