Recipe: Quince Jelly
Aromatic autumn quinces make for the most delicious jelly.
Words and recipe: Lynda Hallinan Photo: Sally Tagg
The earlier in the season you harvest your quinces, the higher their pectin content, guaranteeing a firmer set. However, the colour of the jelly deepens with the ripeness of the fruit: the first batches I make each year are an elegant rose-pink, while the last of the season turns deep red.
up to 5kg quinces
Wipe quinces clean and roughly chop the unpeeled, uncored fruit into medium-sized cubes (I use a meat cleaver). Place in a large pot with just enough water to cover. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and gently simmer, with the lid on the pot, until the flesh turns pink and starts to mush up.
Line a sieve or colander with muslin cloth, or use a jelly bag, and place over a large bowl. Pour the quinces and cooking liquid into the cloth-lined colander and tie the corners of the fabric together, then hang it up from a kitchen hook and leave to drip overnight, reserving the strained juice.
The next day, discard the bag of pulp and measure the liquid, which should be deep pink and quite viscous. For every cup of liquid, you will need 1 cup sugar. At this point, place a small plate in the freezer (use this to test for setting point).
Heat the liquid in a large pot and, when boiling, stir in an equal quantity of sugar. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved, then boil hard for 10-15 minutes. Test for setting by spooning a few drops onto the cold plate; it should form a skin when it’s ready.
Take off the heat, scoop off any scum that has collected around the sides of the pot, and pour into small, warm jars to seal.
If you have been frustrated by quince jelly failures in the past, there is no shame in using Chelsea Jam Setting Sugar. For one litre of strained quince juice, use 1kg Jam Setting Sugar. Boil for 5 minutes. It sets like a quivering Turkish Delight-coloured rock.