Old-fashioned, but delicious

Do you like quinces? For me, they are like a childhood memory. My granny used to make a wonderful jelly from quinces out of her own garden.

Nowadays, quinces are not very common anymore. Perhaps because they are not commercially grown on a large scale. It can be incredibly difficult to find a good source of quinces. Well, several weeks ago, I was happily surprised to come across fresh quinces at my grocery store. I did not hesitate a second, I immediately took about a kilo with me and, on the same day, cooked three jars of quince jam.

All good things come to an end and so does the quince season in early December. Today, I took my chance to purchase another kilo before they are gone until the next year. And now, I have three more jars of quince jam in my pantry.

Quinces are really wonderful. They have a very unique flavour, kind of flowery, perfume-like. In the raw state, they are hard and astringent. But when you cook them, they become soft and delicious. And the flavour gets even more intense during cooking. Since quinces contain much pectin, they are ideal for jelly or jam. You don’t have to add any jelling agents, nature does it all for you.

Quince jam

About 1.5 kg quinces
About 500 g sugar
2 lemons

Squeeze one lemon and, in a large bowl, mix the juice with some water. Peel and core the quinces just like you would do with an apple. Cut the quinces into coarse pieces and immediately lay them into the bowl with the lemon water to prevent browning. (When you cut through the fruit, you disrupt its cells. Browning is caused by polyphenol oxidases released from vacuoles, which lead to formation of ortho-quinones in the cytosol. The acidity of the lemon juice inactivates enzymes.)

Once you’re done, transfer the quinces to a pot, discarding the water. Cover the fruit with fresh water and cook for 20-30 minutes until soft. Then pour off the liquid and chop the quinces in a food processor or with a hand-blender. You can add some of the cooking liquid, if the puree is too thick.

Return the fruit puree to the pot. For every 1 kg, add 500 g sugar. Bring to boil and let simmer 30-40 minutes over low heat. The jam will typically change its color from yellow to pink during cooking. It is ready, when a small spoon of jam put on a cold plate jells well. Squeeze a lemon, add the juice to the quince jam and bring to a short boil. Funnel the jam into clean jars and cover.

I prefer jars with screw lids since they are very convenient to use. And I don’t process the jars after filling. The heat of the cooked jam (> 100 °C) is far enough to sterilize the jars. Immediately after filling, turn around the jars and let them stand on the lid for a few minutes. That’s it.

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