Quince

I feel I little like the queen, never see or hear from her for a year and then the Christmas message appears. Well this is my Easter message and it all about quince, not corona, not isolation, not bread (well maybe a Hot Cross Bun), just quince.

When we first purchased this property, I had plans to fill the lane way with all sorts of fruit trees, herbs and other plants that could be shared within the community. I have sadly only managed to plant a quince tree and some geraniums that I relocated from other spots. The few apple trees I planted just didn’t make it. The quince tree did not perform at all well the first few years and I now think I have been pruning it too hard, as all of this fruit was on branches I probably would have have trimmed off in previous years. So these combined with a few my daughter had on her young tree are being converted into quince jelly and quince paste.

I follow the same method up to a point and then use the ‘mash’ left to make the quince paste and the liquid for the jelly.

Start by washing all the fuzzy down from the quince, cut out any dodgy bits cop the rest into chunks and put in a pot with plenty of water covering them and simmer until really soft. This can take an hour or more.

Once the fruit is soft it needs to be strained to separate the liquid from the solid. It is VITAL that this isn’t rushed or forced as you will end up with cloudy jelly. I use some calico tied to an upturned stool or chair, dump the mash into it and have a bucket underneath as a catcher.

I left this overnight to let it do it’s drip, drip, drip, ever so slowly into the bucket. The next day I measured the liquid into a pot, added equal parts sugar, a squeeze of lemon and let it slowly come to setting point. As this happens, the most magical transformation to a beautiful pink is taking place. Once setting point is reached it can be bottled as you would with any jam.

For the quince paste it is a matter of converting the leftover mash after straining. This is what was left from the juice straining. Looks a bit like vomit doesn’t it!

I don’t like a really gritty paste, so I do one separation using a larger gauge mesh to remove all of the chunky bits, seeds and core fibers, then run the remaining fruit pulp through a finer gauge mesh. This leaves a lovely fine pulp. The bits removed will be chook fodder and they love it.

Now at this point, for anyone who has ever attempted quince paste, you will undoubtedly recall the amount of mess making this can create. Well, not with this baby. The magic weapon is to use your slow cooker. The paste can simmer away there for hours until it hits the desired consistency without a spatter on anything. This is the fruit pulp with ~3/4 cup of sugar to each cup of pulp mixed in and ready to simmer away.

I turned it off overnight as I am not really a thrill seeker and just turned it back on the next morning. Once it reached a thickening stage I placed a t/towel over it between the paste and the lid and left the lid slightly off so moisture wouldn’t fall back into the paste. I let this simmer until I was happy with the consistency. It looks very dark but it is no way overcooked.

The paste was then poured into some jars, some suitable to remove slabs from for serving with platters etc.

And that is how simple and easy it is to convert some ridiculously weird fruit into something delicious.

Seeing as it is Easter, I’ll wish you all a safe and not too lonely time. I hate not being able to get together but hope we will see our new grand-daughter at her 21st. Cheers witha sourdough Hot Cross Bun and a glass of pink sauvignon blanc to match the pink quince jelly.