|Quince jam doesn't last long in my house|
I bought some quince and got to work. First I poached quince segments with sugar, a splash of vanilla and a squeeze of lemon. Next I begged a friend's mother's recipe for khoreshe behh, an unusual Persian beef stew with quince. When that was gone, I made jam.
Quince in its pure, raw state is astringent and inedible. It needs sugar and it's rich in pectin. Jam is perhaps the perfect use for quince. Give it sugar and a little water, and it breaks down into a sweet, aromatic slurry. You can use a lot of sugar and cook it aggressively so that it sets up firm, or you can use less sugar and cook it more gently, in which case you end up with jam the texture of thick applesauce. I prefer the latter, but it's your call.
There are all sort of uses for quince jam. It's delicious on toast. My husband stirs it into his oatmeal. Last week I used it to glaze a roast duck, and yesterday I spooned it into little thumbprint cookies. Just make sure you label the jar. If you're like me, you also have homemade apricot jam in your refrigerator in a recycled spaghetti sauce jar. And it's hard to tell the two apart on first glance.
Note: I have made friends with Jim, the produce manager at Bob's Market in Santa Monica. Bob's is an old-fashioned, family-owned, non-chain market in my neighborhood with a full-service butcher, excellent produce, and reasonable prices. Jim goes down to the wholesale produce market himself in the wee morning hours almost every day, and after 30 years in the business, he knows his suppliers. He greets my requests for 10 pounds of sunchokes or a case of quince with a smile. He can get anything. If you're near Santa Monica, you'd be well advised to meet Jim - please tell him I sent you. If you're not, and you want to get your hands on something unusual or in large quantities, don't be afraid to introduce yourself to the produce manager of your store. He or she probably has connections to get you what you need.
Quince season is short; make it last by putting up a few jars of this delicious jam.
- 4 pounds fresh quince, peeled, cored and diced
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 1 lemon
- 2 cups water
Have a few clean jars ready to go. You can use canning jars with lids, or even recycled jam or spaghetti sauce jars. (I don't go through the canning process. Jam doesn't last long in our house, so I fill clean jars with hot jam, cover them, let them cool, then refrigerate the jam until we're ready to eat it. I like small-batch jam.) Put all the ingredients into a large, heavy pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover the pot and cook until the fruit is soft. You may have to turn down the heat a bit to keep the mixture from burning on the bottom of the pot.When the quince is soft, use a potato masher to break up the fruit. Continue to boil until the jam mixture is thickened and looks glossy instead of watery. I can't give you an exact time - it depends how much water there was in your fruit to start with. When the jam has thickened, ladle it into the clean jars almost to the top, wipe the rims clean, and put the lids on finger-tight. Leave the jars on the counter to cool. You may hear the lids "ping" as the jam cools, forming a seal. You may not. It doesn't matter if you're going to keep the jam in the refrigerator and use it within a month or two. Which you will. Trust me.
DetailsPrep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: approximately 1 quart