Quince Jelly

CanningJams and JelliesPreservesQuince

Beautiful rose colored quince jelly recipe with step-by-step instructions and photographs.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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

  • 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)

Special equipment:

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

Method

First Stage of Cooking

1 Cover quince with water: 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 Cook quince until soft: Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until the quince pieces are soft.

3 Mash cooked quince: 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 Strain the quince 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 Add sugar: Measure the amount of juice you have. Should be about 4 to 5 cups. Pour the strained quince juice 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: 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.

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

8 Sterilize jars: As the jelly is boiling, sterilize your jars for canning. (See section below on canning.)

9 Look for the set point: 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 218°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.

Canning

10 Sterilizing jars: 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 Ladle jelly into jars and seal: 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

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

103 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Victoria Lee

    I am curious before I start. No water bath after filling and lids attached?
    I have made Quince Jelly for years, I like this one but always gave it 10 minutes in the boiling water to seal the jars. Help?

    Show Replies (1)
  2. Jan Willem Heemstra

    Nice story, but technically flawed. To make jelly set and for best flavour it is key to also cook the cores (pips are very high in pectin!!) and peels (lot of flavour), all muckybparts stay behind in your cheesecloth anyway. Secondly, the riper the fruit, the less pectin. By the time the quinces start spreading their delicious aromas, it is probably a bit late to make jelly.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Sharon

    I made this for the first time 3 years ago. Wonderful easy recipe, turned out wonderful. Now a family favourite. I have just started cooking this year’s batch. The house smells devine

  4. Jane

    I’ve just made up this years batch of juice straining now. I hope it’s as good as last years jelly. Superb…

  5. Robert

    what colour should the syrup be before sugar is added

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