Quince Jelly

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Quinces are rather odd fruit. They look like a cross between an apple and a pear, and as such seem inviting to eat. But if you take a bite of one right off the tree, likely you won’t do it again!

Most varieties are too sour and astringent raw, and will make your mouth pucker if you attempt to eat them without cooking them first.

They are however, lovely cooked, and make the most beautiful rose-colored jelly. They’re also loaded with natural pectin, so you don’t need to add any additional pectin to the jelly making process.

quince

For many years my friend George had a quince tree in his yard, and every year he made a batch or two of quince jelly. One year he invited me to join him in the process which I’ve captured here.

The recipe is basic and easy. George used old fashioned paraffin wax to seal the jars. Most people now use regular canning jars and lids.

Although my friend George is no longer with us, I treasure the memories of the patience and joy with which he set about making things in the kitchen, like his rye bread, and this beautiful quince jelly.

Quince Jelly

 

Quince Jelly Recipe

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  • Yield: Makes 4-6 8-ounce jars of jelly

You'll be able to tell a quince is ripe by smelling the blossom end of it. Ripe quince have a strong, floral fragrance. For best results, only use quince that are ripe and have that lovely smell.

Sometimes home grown quince can be rather buggy. My mother used to tell me that all that meant was that the fruit was good! If this happens to your quince, just cut around the buggy parts.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 lbs (1.6 kg) of quince, washed, stems removed, cored, quartered (leave skin on)
  • 7 cups (1.6 liters) water
  • Enough sugar to add almost a cup of sugar (about 7/8 cup) for every cup of juice (about 4 cups)

Equipment needed

  • 1 wide 6 or 8-quart pan (Stainless steel or copper with stainless steel lining)
  • Cheesecloth
  • Metal strainer (2)
  • Potato masher
  • Canning jars (6 8-ounce jars or 3 pint jars)
  • Candy thermometer

Method

First Stage of Cooking

1 Put quince pieces in a large stockpot with a thick bottom and add water (if you are eyeballing it, put in enough water to cover the pieces of quince by about an inch.)

quince-covered-with-water quince-cooking

2 Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until the quince pieces are soft.

3 With a potato masher, mash the quince to the consistency of slightly runny applesauce. Add more water if necessary. If the mash is too thick, you won't get enough juice out of it.

Mashing quince jelly pulp Straining the juice from the quince pulp

4 To strain the juice from the pulp, place a metal strainer over a pot. Drape 2 layers of cheesecloth over the strainer. (Can skip the cheesecloth if you are using a fine mesh strainer). Ladle the pulp into the cheesecloth. You may need to have two strainers set up this way. Let the pulp strain for 3 to 4 hours. If you aren't getting enough juice out of the pulp, you may need to mix more water into the mash.

Measure the juice and add sugar

5 Measure the amount of juice you have. Should be about 4 to 5 cups. Pour into a thick-bottomed pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Measure out the sugar - a little less than a cup for every cup of juice. Add sugar to the juice.

Second stage of cooking

6 Bring to a boil, initially stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved, so that the sugar does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Insert a candy thermometer to monitor the jelly temperature.

quince-jelly-alden quince-jelly-skimming-foam

7 As the jelly cooks, skim off the foam that comes to the surface with a spoon.

8 As the jelly is boiling, sterilize your jars for canning.

9 As the temperature rises above the boiling point of water (212°F), you will notice the consistency of the jelly/juice begins to change. When the temperature is approximately 6 to 8 degrees higher than boiling point at your altitude (anywhere from 118°F  to 220°F at sea level) the jelly is ready to pour into jars. (Quince has so much pectin, it can set earlier than other types of jellies.)

runny-jelly.jpg ready-jelly.jpg

Left: Jelly is too runny. Right: Jelly is wrinkling when pushed, which means it's ready.

Note that candy thermometers aren't always the most reliable indicators of whether or not a jelly is done. Another way to test is put a half teaspoonful of the jelly on a chilled (in the freezer) plate. Allow the jelly to cool a few seconds, then push it with your fingertip. If it wrinkles up, it's ready.

quince-jelly-boiling-1 quince-jelly-boiling-2

Canning

10 There are several ways to sterilize your jars for canning. You can run them through a short cycle on your dishwasher. You can place them in a large pot (12 quart) of water on top of a steaming rack (so they don't touch the bottom of the pan), and bring the water to a boil for 10 minutes. Or you can rinse out the jars, dry them, and place them, without lids, in a 200°F oven for 10 minutes. Sterilize canning lids by letting them sit in just boiled hot water for a few minutes.

11 Use a large ladle to pour the jelly into the sterilized jars to 5/8 inch from the top rim of the jar. Seal the top with a canning lid and ring. You will hear a popping noise as a vacuum seal is created as the jars of jelly cool.

If you want to use paraffin wax to seal the jars instead of the canning lids, melt some paraffin in a separate small saucepan. Pour enough melted paraffin over the jelly in the jars to add 1/4-inch layer of wax to the top. The paraffin wax will float to the top, cool, and harden, forming a seal over the jelly as it cools. Note that this method is no longer endorsed by current canning experts because sometimes it doesn't seal perfectly, and mold can get in. 

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Links:

Quince Jelly from the Joy of Cooking

Quince Jam here on Simply Recipes

George Testing the Consistency of the Quince Pulp

George in his kitchen cooking the quince

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Showing 4 of 80 Comments

  • G Lopez

    Your instructions on the canning process were good, except I need clarifying on when the sterilized lids are put on the jars. Do you submerge the jars again in the hot water for 10 minutes to ensure a seal or just seal the jar and put it away to cool?

    I love quince and really enjoyed reading all the comments. When my Aunt was with us she made the paste and I could never get enough of it. Our neighbor has a tree that she never did anything with. I always obtained some quince and made jam almost like applesauce but I loved it. I have added this to cookies, breads and last year I found a recipe for Membrillo cookies that were a hit with everyone in the family. The pickiest eater wants to know when I am going to make the cookies again. She said she couldn’t stop eating them, I was surprised because she turns her nose up at almost everything. I wasn’t aware that so many people loved this fruit. I have been asked about its history and I just thought it was an old-fashioned pioneer fruit, lol. Next year we will make sure that the neighbors take care of the tree to bear giant fruit like in past years. This year the fruit is very small as I don’t believe they watered it much. Thank you for any insight on the boiling of the jars.

  • Paula madeiros

    Hi Elise I have made this recipe for a few years now but always struggle at the straining method we use a fine painter straining mesh bag we can ladle 5/6 cups of mash but hardly any liquid comes out , my husband is so tempted to squeeze the bag but I know this makes it cloudy , how runny should the mash be and out of 5/6 cups of mash how much liquid are we suppose to have . Thanks appreciate your help . Paula Vancouver BC

  • MONICA

    A glorious aroma coming from the kitchen while cooking my quince jelly. All jared up and looking beautiful. Can’t wait for it to cool and try. This is my first attempt so fingers crossed.

  • Emilia N. Prieto

    Hi Elise,
    what can i do with the pulp that is left in the seive??

  • DOT MOORE

    i

    WHEN DO YOU PICK THE FRUIT FROM THE QUINCE BUSH…IT IS JULY HERE IN ALABAMA AND THE FRUIT IS A ROSY TAN COLOR.
    I WOULD LIKE TO MAKE JELLY.

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