Never having tasted quince, I was intrigued to find this pile at United Brothers Fruit Market in Astoria, Queens. Prior to this I’d only seen them in the fancy parterre gardens at the Cloisters Museum way uptown. So quince has always carried vague impressions of maidens and lutes and unicorn tapestries. Who could resist? Not I.
Quince jelly might be the simplest yet. Preserving books offer minor variations on a theme: boil the fruit for a couple of hours, strain, add sugar, boil 20 minutes, and you’re done. They’re packed with pectin for a reliable, thick set.
But there is a bit more to learn. Kevin West, in Saving the Season, says that Nostradamus was nuts for quince jelly, which he claimed is “supreme in appearance, quality, flavor and excellence, which is suitable for presenting to a king.”
There’s no better recommendation than that.
4 lbs. quince
8 cups water
4 cups sugar
1 T. lemon juice
- Wash the quince. Trim off the top and bottom to remove stem and blossom stubs. Cut into quarters.
- Place quince in large heavy pot. Cover with water by 1″ (8 cups more or less, depending on your pot).
- Simmer for two hours with the lid ajar.
- Let cool, strain through a jelly bag or cheese cloth. Do not squeeze the fruit, otherwise the jelly will not be clear.
- Measure the juice (you should have about 4 cups). Wipe out the pot and return the juice with an equal volume of water and the lemon juice.
- Simmer for 20 minutes. Check to make sure the jelly has reached the gel stage, either with the cold plate test, or spoon drip test.
- Pour into clean sterilized 1/2 pint jars, seal, process for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.