Monday, December 20, 2010

Quince jam recipe

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Quince jam doesn't last long in my house
I go through phases when I cook. This fall I have been in my quince phase. It started when I was served a poached quince with rosewater at Sauce on Hampton, a tiny jewel of a restaurant in Venice. It was my first experience with quince in its whole-fruit form. The flavor was lovely, like an ultra-floral pear. But I was truly mesmerized by the quince's texture: pure velvet.

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.

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Quince jam
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.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: approximately 1 quart


BonnieBanters said...

Just my kind of jam! I'm always looking for the less complicated jam recipes. (I keep a variety of flavors, since it is my favorite type of spread.) Also, I'm glad to see a great way to use quince. Oh, I got a kick out of the jar comments since I collect leftover jars for this purpose. Thanks for the recipe - I can't wait to try it!

Lana said...

I just talked to my mother a couple of nights ago and as a result, I am getting ready to make the quince jelly, the quince jam, and the quince sweets that remind me of my childhood (quince has a lot of pectin, and solidifies so that it can be cut, after the mix is poured into a pan - usually small half-circled or triangular metal pans, specially made by Gypsies in Serbia:)
Her recipe for jam is very similar to yours.
If I can get the husband to peel the quinces for me, I just might accomplish everything on the list:)

Lindsey @ Gingerbraed Bagels said...

I've been seeing so many jars of quince jam in Portland and have really wanted to try it. I've always been curious about quince. I didn't know they were inedible when raw.
The jam you made looks so gorgeous and delicious. I love how simple the recipe is!

Heather in SF said...

How beautiful! At Thanksgiving I had a few quince and roasted them in syrup. I used them in a salad and then made a compote for waffles. Why not use the jam as a filling for crepes or as a base for salad dressing with champagne vinegar? Your duck sounds amazing, by the way.

Jean at The Delightful Repast said...

Oh my goodness--I forgot all about quince! I LOVE quince jam, but it's been so long since I've had a quince on the premises, it just slipped my mind. Must do! And your pictures are gorgeous!

Maria said...

I would love a piece of toast with this jam!

Unknown said...

Dear Erika, I haven't tried any of your recipes this season as I was too busy marking a major Government exam paper the whole month of December but I want to wish you and your family A Blessed New Year with joy, good health and blessings.

Erika Kerekes said...

Elaine - happy new year to you and yours! Work often gets in the way of cooking in my house. Hmm, maybe that's my resolution for 2011: More cooking....

Anonymous said...

When I was a little girl, I remember my Portuguese Grandmother making quince jam - it turned out more like a syrup and we would pour it on pancakes- it was delicious! I am going to try to duplicate that this year!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I live in Christchurch, New Zealand and the 9000 + earthquakes haven't destroyed the quince tree in my backyard. We're renting and just discovered this fruit that fell from the tree (it's autumn/fall) -luckily the landlord put a picture and description of the ripe fruit on the trunk from the garden centre when she bought it, as my husband thought they were pears and cut them open and they browned so quickly (he took a bite too and spat it out). Looking forward to trying this recipe tomorrow. Thanks, Angela

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