With Autumn in full swing its time to get active in the kitchen, preserving the fruit and vegetables that we’ve grown and foraged over summer.
One of my favourite breakfast spreads is quince jelly flavoured with vanilla. I’m making it with the quinces that I foraged back in March – thankfully for me quinces store very well. I’ve only had to get rid of a few pieces of fruit that had gone bad.
You will notice that these are not your perfect fruit. Manky quinces make perfectly good jelly because all you need to do is extract the flavour from the fruit. The fruit pulp isn’t included in the final product.
Here’s how I did it. After washing the fuzz off the quinces I cut the fruit up, skin, pips and all, removing any dodgy bits as I went. I then added the juice of one lemon to the cut fruit, covered the fruit with water and brought the mix to the boil. Once the mix was boiling I reduced the heat and allowed the fruit to simmer until it became soft.
Now I drained the liquid from the fruit, straining the juice through a sieve covered with a piece of muslin, to catch any stray pieces of pulp. I chose to hang the fruit in a bag and allowed it to drip overnight. But given that I only extracted about an extra half a cup of juice by doing this I’d say it really wasn’t worth the effort.
The final step of the process was to measure a quantity of sugar that was equal to the amount of liquid – in this case 7 cups of liquid and 7 cups of sugar. To add the finishing touch I cut open and scraped the seeds from a vanilla pod and added both the seeds and the pod to the syrup.
This mix is then cooked until the jelly has reached setting point. (If you’re not sure how to judge the setting point you can find a good video guide here).
The heat of the stove creates one last miracle. The hard white flesh of the quince turns a sublime pink. What more could you ask for on your slice of toast!
The recipe I used is based on the Quince Jelly (2) recipe, from Sally Wise’s book, A Year in a Bottle.