The Quince Diaries (3)

I had a very strange dream last night. I can't remember the exact details but there were lots of quinces.

I thought I was getting through them but then I made the mistake of buying one of these. I had no idea there was such a thing until I did a bit of googling. The pole extends to 3 metres (or yards for us imperial types) thus enabling me to pick every last one of my quinces. What fun it was being able to reach such heights. Only problem is I now have even more quinces than ever.

I decided to try another farmshop. They took some. If you are in the Worcester - Malvern area pay a visit to Roots at Rushwick where you can buy fabulous eggs from running-about chickens, lovely seasonal veg including at the moment colourful winter squashes, home-grown meat and quinces! Roots will be at Ludlow farmer's market tomorrow.

Today I have been making quince jelly. Fruit jellies are very easy to make and much less work than jam. Something to strain the cooked fruit in is essential though. I use a jelly bag and stand like this one.

The cut up fruit looks pretty manky doesn't it? Not to worry though, all will be well. The great thing about making jelly rather than jam is that you don't need to peel or core the fruit and with quinces that's definitely a good thing. Just cover with water and bring gently to a simmer. Cook until soft -about an hour.

See how all the browness has disappeared?
Once cooked carefully pour/ladle the whole lot into your jelly bag and leave to drip over a bowl overnight. I forgot to take a picture of this I'm afraid. If you squeeze the jelly bag you will get more juice but your jelly will be cloudy. It's up to you -taste will not be affected.

I had a bit of an incident (quincident?) with my second batch. As I was lifting the bag full of pulp off the stand it slipped into the bowl of juice. Fortunately I was wearing an apron and the floor needed a wash anyway.

Measure the juice and for every pint (2½ US cups) add one pound of sugar. No need for sugar-with-pectin  as quinces are full of pectin, plain old granulated will do.
Heat gently, stirring now and again to ensure the sugar has dissolved. Then bring to a full rolling boil.

Here it goes. You can skim off that scummy foam.

And here it is at full rolling boil. Scary isn't it?
Start timing from this point -five minutes to start with.

Keep your eye on it, it can climb out of the pan!
After five minutes spoon a little jelly onto a cold saucer. If it has reached setting point it will wrinkle when cooled on the saucer. Mine took ten mins. It doesn't have to be a really firm set, I prefer a softer set as it is more versatile and can be added to sauces and marinades more easily. It will firm up on cooling.

While the jelly was boiling my jars were being sterilised in the oven at about 100°c.
I got 13 1lb jars of jelly out of about 13lb of quinces. I made it in two batches. If you haven't made jelly before start with a smaller quantity- 3 or 4 lb.

Quince jelly is delicious on toast, bread and butter or with scones and cream. A thing I love is a water biscuit spread with quince jelly and topped with a blob of crème fraîche. It goes well with rich meats like pork or goose. My sister-in-law likes it with smoked mackerel. I add a spoonful to the gravy for roast pork or my Christmas goose. It's also good as a glaze for chops-pork or lamb.


  1. Lovely I made soem crab apple jelly recently. It was my first jelly attempt and cam e out quite good although not as much as I thought there'd be. x

  2. I made my first attempt at jelly last autumn with rowan and apple jelly, you are right it is so easy, yet I was always worried in the past thinking that the fact it needed special equipment i.e. jelly bag meant that it would be complicated. I'm hooked on making jelly now, and made apple and blackberry last week. xxx

  3. I know what exactly you mean. A jelly bag may sound like an obscure bit of kit but I've used mine countless times and am so glad I bought it.

  4. The colour of the quince jelly is just stunning. Even if it tasted awful (which I'm certain it does'nt) you could use the jars as a splash of autumnal colour! Of course you would have to get rid of them before next years crop otherwise you would be swimming in jelly - now theres a thought!

  5. What a fantastic Quince Harvest you've had Sue. Perhaps I should plant a Quince when I eventually get a garden. I planted a plum in the previous garden I had, and the fruits were delicious. I'm also tempted by a Fig tree.
    Jill x

  6. It's a beautiful colour. Jelly making is another thing to add to my list of things to try.

  7. Well done for off loading some of your many quinces to the farmshop, if only I lived near by.

    Lovely lovely photos Sue, now why don't cookbooks have illustrations and explanations like yours, including spillages, so the rest of us feel we are doing OK if we make a mistake.

    AdeY x

  8. My tummy is rumbling as I read this post, your jelly looks so good and I'm now desperate for some lamb and quince pilaff! I love your apple well, I just know the children would love one - did you play with your food as a child? x

  9. A quincident! Love it. Love that jelly too.

  10. Mmmmmmm, yummo, it looks so beautiful. I have told you in the past that my grandmother had a quince tree, well I was wrong!!!!! It was a loquat tree and she would make loquat jelly and it was beautiful.
    Hugs sandi x

  11. Oh my that is a lot of jelly!! I'm salivating just looking at it, it's my favourite ever!!!

  12. Hi - first visit to your blog, but I'll be back - lovely pictures! That jelly looks delicious! And what an excellent tutorial. We had a quince tree at our old house, but it never produced much fruit. (I've arrived here via 'Useful or Beautiful')

  13. pati from london4:00 pm BST

    i love the jelly colour!! yumm yumm...

  14. Monica F1:02 am BST

    Looks fabulous, I would love to find quinces in my area. I recently visited a friend in the states and we made fresh quince paste which is my Dad's favourite. It was absolutely delicious. You also inspired me earlier in the year with your elderflower cordial. I love your blog!

  15. Caroline8:05 pm BST

    I love your little label illustrations...sooo sweet!!


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