Monday, April 9, 2012

Quince Jelly and Quince Paste


A hard yellow, apple like fruit, is often associated in Greek mythology with the goddess Aphrodite. When raw they are almost inedible, but once cooked they have the most delicate scent and flavour.

A few weeks ago, whilst driving in the Adelaide Hills I came across some quince trees with fruit on the side of the road. On Friday my friend Kyri and I went back and picked all the quinces we could get from the trees. It was a lot of fun, using sticks to pull the fruit down from the higher branches and in some cases chasing dislodged fruit down the road! We got about 5 kg of fruit from 2 trees.

We used the fruit to make quince jelly and quince paste over the course of 2 days. It is rather time consuming and not really something that can be done in a day.

Cooking quince jelly and quince paste!

The first issue we had was finding a recipe to deal with about 4 kg of cut, peeled and cored fruit. Most recipes were for '6 quinces' or '8 quinces', not actual pound/kilogram measurements. After a phone call to Kyri's grandmother we finally managed to get started.

Poached Quinces
The first step to making quince jelly and quince paste is to poach the quinces.

You will need quinces, water, a jelly bag and a reasonably large pot, preferably aluminium-as aluminium cookware enhances the deep red colour quince goes when cooked.

  1. Peel, quarter and core the quinces, place into a large pot and add enough water to just cover.
  2. Tie some of the quince cores and skin into a muslin bag and add to the pot. They contain a lot of pectin which will help the jelly set.
  3. Cook over a medium heat until the quinces are falling apart.
  4. Using a jelly bag [or in our case a clean sterilised pillowcase], strain the liquid from the pulp into a clean saucepan overnight. Don't be tempted to squeeze the bag to hurry the straining process along, as it may make the jelly cloudy.

Quince Jelly
The second step is to make the jelly from the poaching liquid. The liquid won't be clear yet but as it is boiled with become clear.

You will need the poaching liquid, white sugar, a pot, clean empty jars with lids and something to skim the scum from the top [a skimmer or a large spoon will work fine]. If you have one, a sugar/jam thermometer is handy-we didn't have one, so used to traditional method of a cold saucer to check when the jelly was set.
Quince jelly on the stove. Note the white scum on the surface-this needs to be skimmed off.

  1. Measure the poaching liquid and add 950g of white sugar to every litre of poaching liquid. Place into a clean pot, heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Keep on a slow boil, constantly skimming the surface scum off. The more of the scum you skim off, the clearer the jelly will become. As it boils down, the colour should deepen to a deep red colour.

    Quince jelly freshly poured into hot sterilised jars.
  3. Once the jelly has reached 104 °C (219 °F) pour into hot sterilised jars and seal.
  4. If you do not have a thermometer, you can test the jelly setting by putting a drop of the jelly onto a cold saucer [we put ours in the freezer] and see if it gels. If it stays liquid, it needs to cook for longer. 

Our tray of cooling quince jelly.
 Quince Paste
The third step is to make the quince paste. This can be done at the same time as the jelly, if you have room on the stove.

You will need the quince pulp, white sugar, water, a pot, greaseproof paper and trays/containers to set the paste in.
Quince Pulp on the stove
  1. Weigh the pulp and use 3/4 of the pulp's weight in white sugar.
  2. Place the quince pulp into a pot, mash well and add a small amount of water if necessary to stop the pulp sticking to the bottom of the pan. Try to add as little water as possible-the more water you add, the longer the cooking will take.
  3. Start heating on low heat, once it has warmed slightly, start adding the sugar in portions and stir until dissolved.
  4. Keep on a low heat, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick. As it reduces it should turn a red/brown colour and get rather sticky. This can take a long time-we had 2kg of pulp and it took roughly 5-6 hours to reduce down enough.

    Quince paste after being cooked on the stove. Ready to go into the oven.
  5. Remove from heat and spoon into trays lined with greaseproof paper. Place in a warm fan-forced oven for approximately 2 hours. This dries it out somewhat and darkens the colour a bit more.
  6. Once cool enough to touch, cover with cling wrap and allow to set in the fridge.
Finished quince paste ready to be cooled and cut.

Thank you Kyri for the photos!

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