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.

 

 

 

 

In My Kitchen- Oh dear another month gone by!

Not too much happening here at the moment – just seem to have lost my mojo! Thanks to Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for hosting this forum. Never cases to amaze me how some people churn out the most wonderful dishes and have stocked in their cupboards some lovely little gems!

This month the Autumn season was in full swing and consequently there are changes in what is available to use in the kitchen. I was lucky enough to have some beautiful quince dropped off to me by George & Jenny who own and operate Tarra Valley Foods in Rosedale Victoria. They make and sell a huge range of preserves, all of which I have tasted are wonderful. If you are ever heading down the Princes Hwy towards the NSW border, make a point to seek them out! They also have a great range of preserving history displayed. These little beauties are headed to become quince jelly and I’ll also do some oven slow poached quince. Lightly spiced with some lemon, star anise and cinnamon it makes a lovely desert.

Quince

We spent the Easter break camping at Castlemaine, an historical town in the area where gold fever was prominent in the formative years of Australia. This region is full of lovely old architecture and there are also some great markets to be visited.  I really like the Wesley Hill Market as it has a great range of fruit & veg, preserves and also a great eclectic assortment of crafts, preloved goods and it generally has a nice buzz to it. I picked up these,

Wesley Hill Farmers Market

The Splitters Creek olive oil I bought last time we were there was beautiful, didn’t even taste test this time, hope it’s still up to the mark! Tried to find a link but sadly they don’t seem to have any web presence.

The two other bottles are a Persian style pickle and some garlic which has been pickled using date vinegar. No idea what will I will do with them but it seemed like a good idea at the time!

Before we left I had made dumplings from scratch. Had never made the wrappers before and they were a great success. Won’t stress over that again, just takes a bit of time to roll the dough out.

Dumpling wrappers

The left over dumpling filling of pork, ginger, zucchini, spring onion and sesame oil made nice little meatballs to go with our always favoured camping breakfasts. This breaky was sourdough toast (Celia’s starter of course!), poached egg, dumpling stuffing meatballs and grilled tomato served with tomato pickles and a really strong brew of tea.

Camping breakfast

Now to make a cuppa and take a peek at what’s in everyone else’s kitchen this month!

 

Goal achieved!

The blog I posted Friday set me a target to do a few jobs and I am pleased to have achieved that target. Ticks to all the following:

Have my cello lesson – √

Make Quince paste – √

Tidy up – √

Plant something – √

Cleared some leaves – √ (didn’t mow them, will get a few more together and do all at once).

Enjoy our Indian Tea – √ Sure did, made a thermos full which we sipped throughout the day.

Now as for quince paste  cooked in a slow cooker.

How good is this? I wasn’t too optimistic but am thrilled with the result. No fuss or bother and a much cleaner method of production. I might even make another couple of batches while I’m so keen.

Quince minced

After stewing the fruit overnight I put the whole lot through the tomato passata machine.

Quince Paste ready

Into the pot with equal parts of sugar and just let go for hours, gave a stir every now and again. Took the lid off the pot for last couple of hours. Colour is beautiful taste is excellent.

Quince in tray

Into muffin tray to set. When cooled and dried out a bit the individual pieces should be just a nice size to go on a platter!

Girls go free.

We let the girls out for a run and they had a ball! Explored lots of nooks and crannies and devoured loads of bugs of all sorts. Dust baths were had and they were very curious whenever we were working on something. I’ve also added a photo of the massive egg Hilda lay on Friday.

Hilda dust bath

Egg massive

Mother’s Day Tea.

Had a fun-filled evening with the kids home for the first roast dinner cooked in the combustion stove. I set the lounge room up formally (haven’t done that for eons!), decorated the table with a little bit from each of our mums and grandmothers. My mums brocade white table-cloth, MIL’s antique glass lamp, G/Ma H, lovely little green glass bowl and G/M C’s antique sliced bread jar which we used for nuts. Roast was beautiful and my daughter bought along an apple and blackberry crumble which I am enjoying again as I do this post. While the oven was fired up I took advantage of the heat and put on a big pot of stock to simmer away. Smells great! Not much room between stove top and chimney though! Makes it a bit tricky when lifting the lid.

Stock pot
Everhot combustion stove with stock pot simmering.
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Stock simmering away beautifully

Other updates.

Planting (mostly done by husband) consisted of broccoli seedlings, lime tree, established camellia asakura X 12, Eucalyptus Silver Princess X 3, ginkgo biloba that I purchased from the Monbulk Scout plant sale. Amazing how a bit of dimension to a yard makes it feel so much better!

Camellia asakura
Established Camellia asakura planted to begin framework of hedge which will be seen outside bedroom window.

Last of the ‘very unattractive’ 60’s wardrobe removed, getting very excited about how this master bedroom is going to develop.

Wardrobe last bit

This last bit was pulled out minutes later. That’s about the last (apart from kitchen) bit of house that really holds that old stinky smell gone.

Hydronic radiator lounge

One of our new hydronic heating panels-love it!

Bottles

Couple of old bottles plumber found under the house. The beer bottles has MBCV logo on glass which after googling is apparently from around the 1930’s. Many more under there apparently. Wonder if patients needed a bit of ‘Dutch Courage’ before they entered the clinic!

Strawbs mildew

Mmmm, bit concerned that there is powdery mildew appearing o the strawberries. Organic control is apparently done using some or all of the following, diluted pure full cream milk, bicarbonate of soda, potassium bicarbonate and a canola oil-based product Synertrol. I think this has developed because the greenhouse was closed up on the few rather warm days this week. Must get those auto window openers going!

Have had a lovely afternoon working on design for bathroom reno, watching the very funny movie ‘Death at a Funeral’, eating leftovers from Mother’s Day dinner and occasionally doing something constructive. Hope others have had a lovely weekend too!