It is quince season, and friends with Quince trees bring buckets of quinces. Each year we make Quince Jam.
Quince Jam or Jelly
To cook the quinces (read Spiced Baked Quinces)
I don’t peel or core the quinces, but you can if you wish. Cut them into quarters or sixths, depending on the size of them. Cook the quinces with flavourings. This time I cooked them with lemon quarters, spices like cinnamon, cardamon, five star anise, bay leaf, a pinch black pepper. I added some hand rolled jasmine green tea balls (Buddha balls or Buddha’s tears or Dragon’s Tears). This time I didn’t add any sugar, although you can.
You can also cook them in a very slow oven for hours until the quinces are red and the liquid is red and delicious. Or simmer them on the stove until well cooked.
Once they are cooked, drain the liquid. Keep the liquid and discard the quinces (or use them for tarts, pies, icecreams, chutneys or a textured jam etc etc).
At this point you can make the jam or freeze the liquid to use at a later point.
Make the jam
Reduce the liquid by simmering on the stove for an hour, or until it reduces enough. I make this jam by feel, so I can’t be more accurate than that. I can tell when it is about right – the colour intensity increases and the aroma increases slightly. Add the juice of 1 – 4 lemons, depending on how large they are, how juicy and how tart you want the final product.
Add sugar. I don’t make this over sweet. 2.5 cups was enough for liquid from 5 or 6 medium sized quinces. The rule of thumb is to use 1 cup sugar for each cup liquid, but I use somewhat less than this. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, turn up the heat a little, and let it bubble away for 30 minutes or so longer. (You can taste at this point – if you would like it to be more tart, add more lemon juice.)
When you watch the jam, you can tell when it comes near to setting point. It begins to bubble differently. The colour becomes deeper and intense. I check the jam every 10 minutes until I see this happen, and then every 5 minutes.
There are many methods for checking setting point. I do this: I use a metal ladle to take the tiniest amount into the ladle, then swirl it around a little to cool, then tip that drop onto the side of a white bowl. Observe the drop as it drizzles down the side of the bowl. If it is a long way from setting point it will flow easily and quickly. If it is close, it will thickly stop and start its way down. Judge the point that you are happy with. You might want a flowing jam, or you might want a thick set jam. Remember that the tiny drop flowing down the side is still warm and that the cooled jam will be thicker. You will come to know the point very well with practice.
Once you reach your point, ladle into hot jars, pop on the lids and allow to cool. I store in the fridge to avoid spoiling. This works well as I only make 3 or 4 jars at a time and usually give 2 of them away!
Making Jam from Quince Liquid and Trimmings
Sometimes you will have beautiful quince flavoured liquid from cooking other dishes, such as Quince Paste. Make this into jelly by cooking the liquid with the quince trimmings – peels, core and seeds – until the trimmings are red. This will take 2 – 3 hours. Strain the liquid.
At this point you can continue as above by reducing the liquid if necessary, and then adding sugar and lemon juice and simmering until setting point is reached.
Quince Jelly made this way can be flavoured as you wish. In 2017 I made it flavoured with fresh rosemary. Delicious.
Enjoy however you like. I like with thick thick yoghurt, on porridge, or as above, on sourdough bread with pouring cream.
browse some of the Jams series