Quinces are rather odd fruit; they look half-way between an apple and a pear, they are not good to eat off the tree, they are quite hard, they are loaded with pectin (a natural jelling agent), and they make the most lovely rose-colored jelly. My friend George has a quince tree in his yard and every year makes a batch or two of quince jelly. This year he invited me to make some with him, yum! This is how George make his jelly.
Quince Jelly Recipe
Choose quince that are ripe, and have a strong, fragrant scent.
- 3 1/2 lbs of quince, washed, stems removed, cored, quartered (leave skin on)
- 7 cups water
- Enough sugar to add almost a cup of sugar (about 7/8 cup) for every cup of juice (about 4 cups)
- 1 wide 6 or 8-quart pan (Stainless steel or copper with stainless steel lining)
- Metal strainer (2)
- Potato masher
- Parafin (if sealing with parafin, otherwise use lidded canning jars)
- Canning jars
- Candy thermometer
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.)
2 Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until the quince pieces are soft.
Mashing the pulp
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.
George testing the consistency of the quince pulp
Straining juice from pulp with cheesecloth
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
Watching the thermometer
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.
What the juice looks like before it cooks
Skimming the foam
7 As the jelly cooks, skim off the foam that comes to the surface with a spoon.
8 As the jelly is boiling, in a separate pan, melt some parafin wax for a seal and sterilize 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 8 degrees higher than boiling point at your altitude (anywhere from 220°F to 222°F at sea level) the jelly is ready to pour into jars.
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.
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.
11 Use a large ladle to pour the jelly into the sterilized jars to 5/8 inch from the top rim of the jar. Pour in enough melted parafin to add a 1/4 inch layer of wax. The parafin will float to the top, cool, and harden forming a seal over the jelly as it cools. (If you aren't using parafin, use canning jars with canning lids. Sterilize the lids by letting them sit in just boiled hot water for a few minutes. You will hear a popping noise as a vacuum seal is created as the jars of jelly cool.)
Sealing with parafin