Quince are a relative of apples, pears, medlars and roses. The are inedible when raw, but delicious when cooked. Their incredibly high pectin levels make them an ideal fruit to make preserved jelly from, and a scoop of this glowing, ruby clear preserve is the perfect way to instantly upgrade a cheese platter.
It goes wonderfully on pancakes, in biscuits and cakes, as a glaze over hot-cross buns, or slathered on toast. You can use this jelly as an accompaniment to roast meats and vegetables, with cold cuts, or in a simple cheese sandwich. It can be added to marinades instead of honey, and it makes the most perfect glaze for roast chicken, pork, pumpkin or sweet potato.
You can adapt this recipe to make jelly from many types of fruit (medlar, green apple and crabapple are particularly good), but be aware that it’s quince’s high pectin levels that make this jelly set so easily. If using other fruits, you’ll need to allow for this by adding some chopped tart green apples, quince or crabapples to increase pectin; by adding a few underripe fruits; or you could use a commercial liquid or powdered pectin (think Jamsetta).
The whole process takes around a day (including straining/dripping time), so it’s a good one to start one evening, let drip overnight, and then complete the next day. You can scale the recipe up if you have lots of fruit, but be aware that every stage will take longer.
2kg ripe quince, washed & chopped (see notes)
1 cinnamon quill (all spices are optional)
5 green cardamon pods
10 allspice pimento berries
1/2 a star anise
Makes 8-10 x 270ml jars
Large pot (not aluminium)
Straining cloth/jelly bag (see notes)
Clean preserve jars & lids (Can be reused, but only if lids are entirely undamaged)
Pouring jug (glass coffee plunger pots are excellent, but anything heat resistant will work)
1. Chop fruit roughly. The aim is to have fairly uniform-sized pieces. Leave skins & seeds in if just making jelly, but remove seeds if planning to make both jelly and paste. See Notes for more.
2. Add any whole spices you might be using. These are all optional.
3. Cover fruit well with water.
4. Boil until fruit is really soft. If water drops below fruit level, top up with more.
4. “Scald” jelly bag/clean teatowel/muslin cloth in boiling water, then lay inside a large clean bowl with the edges hanging over the rim.
5. Carefully & slowly pour contents of pot into bowl, making sure no quince pieces escape the cloth. Tie the corners of the cloth to form a sort of bag.
6. Hang bag from a sturdy hook (we use cupboard handles) above bowl. Leave for 3-6 hours (or overnight)for all liquid to drip into bowl. DO NOT squeeze bag, or you will end up with cloudy jelly.
7. Measure strained liquid back into the (cleaned out) pot. Compost, puree-and-freeze or bake with fruit pulp (push through sieve/mouli to remove cores and spices).
8. For every 1 cup of liquid, add one cup of sugar. For every 2kg of fruit, add the juice of one lemon as well.
9. Simmer over medium heat until sugar is dissolved, then turn to high heat.
10. Keep at a ‘rolling boil’ until jam reaches a set. Test for a set by dripping a bit onto a cold plate, waiting til it cools, and seeing if it wrinkles/gels when you poke your finger through it.
7. Once at setting stage, take off the heat, skim any scum from the top, then pour jelly into hot sterilised jars and seal tight with boiled lids while hot. Use ladle to spoon into jug to make it easier to pour into jars.
Store in a cool dark cupboard for 12+ months before opening, then in the fridge once you’ve cracked the jar.
* If you just want to make jelly, chop the fruit up core and all, and chuck in the pot (you’re going to discard all the actual fruit so it doesn’t matter that the pips are in there).
If, however, you want to make quince jelly AND quince paste, chop the fruit, remove all core parts, then tie the core pieces along with your whole spices into a small piece of muslin before chucking everything in the pot. This way you get the benefit of the pectin from the cores, but they’re easy to remove after straining the juice off, and it makes your next step (puréeing the fruit) much muuuuuch easier.
*When you’ve filled all of your jars, there will be some scrappy bits of jam left in the pot: scrape it out with a spatula and keep in a little container for adding to porridge, or cakes, or yoghurt, or marinades.
* If you’ve got less apples to add, squeeze in the juice of a lemon or two when adding the sugar to help your jam Set.
* If using foraged quince, watch out for coddling moth grubs. These fat white grubs chew tunnels through fruit, leaving behind crumbly black-brown powder. Cut these bits out, and the rest of the apple is fine to use.