Quince Scrap Jelly

This is part of my preserving column for a bunch of regional Ontario newspapers. For the original post, go here.

“I tried the fruit you told me about, the quince, and it was terrible!” my father exclaimed.

A week earlier, when I had called from Montreal where I was working as a pastry cook at a formidable restaurant called Les Chèvres, to tell him of my discovery, I had neglected one crucial detail. Quince smell like a bouquet of flowers and taste like a heavenly coupling of apple and pear, but they are totally inedible raw. Sorry, Dad.

A knobbly greenish yellow fruit, often covered in a peach-like fuzz, the quince transforms when heated, preferably slowly, eventually turning from pale yellow to a deep shade of scarlet. I like best to poach or bake them in syrup, sometimes perfumed with vanilla or warm spices, before incorporating them into all manner of pastries. They also make a delicious jam, fruit butter or chutney, being prodigiously high in pectin.

This jelly is the bonus after you make some or all of those things. The scraps—peels and cores—of the quince have much to offer. It’s a wonderful feeling to transform what would often be thrown away, into a beautiful little jar of coral-colored, fragrant jelly. Pair it with cheese—Manchego in particular; use it to glaze fruit tarts; add to a cocktail; or serve with meats.

Find some quince, locallly grown by preference, along with some local honey to complement its honeyed notes, and just don’t forget not to sample it before cooking.

 

Quince Scrap Jelly

Makes about four 125 mL jars

1.2 kg (4 large) quince, peels and cores only

300 g (1 1/2 cups) sugar

85 g (1/4 cup) honey

juice of 1 lemon

Put the quince scraps in a large pot and cover with 1 L (4 cups) of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently for an hour, until the quince scraps are very soft.

Strain the mixture through a jelly bag or a cheesecloth-lined sieve, letting it drip overnight. You should have 600 mL (2 ½ cups) of juice.

Transfer the juice to a wide, heavy-bottomed pot and add the sugar, honey and lemon juice. Heat on medium-high and bring to a hard boil, stirring frequently. Skim the foam from the surface with a spoon for crystal-clear results.

When the color deepens to dark pink and the jelly falls slowly in clumps from the spatula when held aloft, test for doneness by putting a teaspoon of it on a plate in the freezer. After two minutes, the jelly should have formed a skin that will wrinkle when prodded.

Remove from the heat, ladle into a heat proof measuring jug and pour into clean jars to within ¼-inch of the rim. Wipe the rims with a damp paper towel, top with new snap lids. Seal fingertip tight and heat process 10 minutes in a hot water bath.

Allow the jars to cool 24 hours, then check the seal before storing somewhere cool, dark and dry, where the jelly will keep at least a year.

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