With all the dramas going along lately some things have been a little neglected. Out of the office window I can barely make out the orchard, but the bright yellow quince adorning the tree have stood out for a while now. I’ve been meaning to do something with the quinces for ages. Then earlier this week we had a short but windy storm blow through and I noticed the yellow to green ratio on the quince tree had somewhat diminished. So I grabbed a big bucket and headed all the way down to the ‘far end’ to salvage what I could. I am ashamed to confess – many were no good as they had been bruised from the fall and were brown on the inside. I am going to set up a meeting with my quince tree in my calendar for next year so I’ll get pop up reminders every day until I do something about them!
Of course the great thing to do with quince is quince jelly and it is so easy to do. Just wash the fruit, chop into chunks – skin and core and all and cover with water and boil until the quince is soft and almost mushy.
Then strain through a cheesecloth or jelly bag – but don’t squeeze or it will go cloudy. Once you’ve collected all the crystal clear juice, then measure the amount and match it with sugar. If you had four cups of liquid, then you would need four cups of sugar. Boil it together until when you put a small spoonful on a cold plate, once it cools, when you push your finger through it, the surface will go wrinkly. Then pop into sterile jars with sterile lids. I got five and a half jars of this delicious rosy glowing nectar to warm my winter.
But you know me – I like to look for the unusual. So I also whipped up a batch of Quince Vinegar.
This is a bit more labour intensive as you need to peel, core and grate the quince and these things are rock hard! So unless you have forearms that resemble those of superman then I’d recommend a food processor. The other advantage of this is quince will oxidise and go brown quite quickly.
Once you have two cups of grated quince, add it to a pot with 1 cup of sugar and 4 cups of white vinegar and bring to the boil.
Once the sugar has dissolved reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Then take off the heat and stand for half an hour. (opps – in my haste I forgot this bit… still seems fine though!) Then strain through a cheese cloth and return the liquid to a clean pot. Boil gently for another 15 minutes and then put into sterile bottles with sterile lids.
Quince vinegar is a great way to add a lovely tangy note to many dishes and is great as a salad dressing when mixed with sunflower oil. So fresh and fruity and like nothing else I’ve ever tasted. I use it sparingly because I don’t want to waste any and I miss it so much when it is gone.
Now being a waste not want not kind of a girl, the carefully prepared grated pulp seems a shame to waste so I make a Pickled Quince Paste with it. It makes this amazing savoury tangy slice-able paste that tastes fantastic with cheese and crackers. It does take a bit of effort, standing over a hot stove and stirring for what feels like forever, but it is well worth it.
So return your grated quince pulp to the pot and add enough white vinegar for it to be able to return to the boil. Then keep stirring until it is reduced to a dark thick paste and pop into a sterilised jar with a sterilised lid.
Don’t be tempted to leave it unattended – even for a moment or it will burn. This is quite labour intensive and will take more than an hour. But it tastes amazing and is worth the effort.
Come again soon – winter is only ten days away but the sun is still shining, it is quite warm and winter couldn’t seem further away!
Sarah the Gardener : o)