Thursday, July 15, 2010

Quince Preserves

There is something very alluring and mysterious about the Quince. It is supposedly one of the oldest-known fruits in the world, and is steeped in folk-lore and legend as the fruit of the gods of Greek and Arabian mythology.

The tree itself is beautiful when full of fruit in late summer. The yellowy, golden pear-shaped fruit is set off gloriously against the dark green leaf of a mature tree. The Quince is one of my favourite fruits, and the tree is one of my favourite trees. The fruit is very aromatic and has filled my house with a beuatiful smell these last few days.

I have a baby tree growing in my orchard, but it will be a few years yet before I see any of those beautiful yellow bells hanging from my branches, so I have found a local grower who sells them from her home, and just now was about that time where I should go knocking on their door for a fresh supply.

I have two jars left over from last year, and I used one of them to serve my brother-in-law and sister-in-law last week. They liked them so much that I had to get 5kgs to mail up to the North Island.

Today I bottled the first batch. For a variation I put a Star of Anise in the syrup to give it flavour. The house now smells divinely spicy. I saved the left-over syrup to pour over a bowl of icecream tonight. Recipe below photo.

The recipe to bottle Quince is very simple. Here is mine:

1.5kg sugar
2 litres water
8 (2-3kg) large Quince
1/2 cup lemon juice
4-6 cups water
Optional: 4-5 whole cloves, 1 strip orange rind or 1 whole star anise

Make syrup by bringing water and sugar to boil, and stir until sugar dissolves.
Prepare a bowl with lemon juice and water (make it a large bowl).
Choose ripe and blemish-free quince. Wash to remove the brown fuzz that is sometimes on the skin.
Peel the Quince and slice into quarters, removing the core and any blemishes, and drop into the lemon water to prevent browning.
Drain and add to the syrup and if desired, add the above spices/cloves of your choice. Simmer gently on a low heat for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the fruit is soft and has started to turn a pale pink.
Bottle into sterilised jars. Remove any airbubbles and use the overflow method to seal.

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