I know quinces are not quite in season anymore, but they still had some at Whole Foods when I went down there last week and I had to load up on as many non-bruised ones as I could. That turned out to be an underwhelming four, but that’s plenty to experiment with!
I decided to try making quince jelly, as I needed something to fill some leftover vegan pastry dough (explanation pending…wait a month or so). I’d seen people make homemade pop tarts so I decided to try that out. What better filling than fragrant, super-sweet quince jelly?
I know quinces are pretty much made of pectin (and magic), so I wanted a recipe that didn’t include any extra (pectin, that is…I’m not sure where I’d buy extra magic). I also just wanted to be able to scale it to however many quinces I had, not some random, huge weight. I found a really easy one and started chopping.
My jelly actually turned out a bit runnier than I’d like, but it was hard to tell while I was actually cooking it and also it was time for LOST. And I don’t miss LOST for anything. I need to work on my jelly/marmalade timing I guess. I cooked for as long as I should have (and a little longer) and figured it might set up a bit more once chilled. It did, but not all the way through.
The puff pastry I made, while a little too salty for me (it’s the margarine…I’m used to good old unsalted butter now) was good. I kind of suck at rolling things out to the correct size so there were a couple extra folds in there, just to make the proportions a bit less ridiculous. Additionally, I’m apparently awful at crimping closed puff pastry.
Maybe you’re not supposed to be able to crimp puff pastry closed? You have to remember that I have no idea what I’m doing here for the most part. The schooling won’t happen for a while still. I’m just kind of doing whatever in the kitchen most days. Aaaanyway, between my crappy crimping skills and the runny jelly, I ended up with a pan full of caramelized jelly and very empty, sad crusts. I had to switch pans halfway through before everything burned horribly from the sugar leaking out all over the place, and then ended up just serving the pop tarts with a bunch of jelly drizzled over the top. On top of that, the jelly is so sweet that it was hard to eat a whole pop tart (also the salty pastry, which apparently isn’t that bad since Z ate all of his and didn’t think the pastry was too salty at all).
I would definitely make the jelly again. Hopefully in huge quantities this fall, and maybe with some other flavors infused in there, too.
My parents are going to be adding fruit trees to their garden and I immediately suggested a quince tree. It’s one of the few fruits that will grow well up here. Also I wouldn’t have to look so hard to find the damn things.
Meyer lemons (about one small for every three quinces…regular lemons might be ok, too, but meyer lemons are more floral and way more complimentary to the quince fragrance)
Rub/rinse the fuzz from your quinces. Chop roughly and place in a saucepan (or large pot, depending on how many quinces you’re using). Don’t peel or core them. Add just enough water to cover (add more while cooking if the water reduces enough), set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to gently boil for about an hour. You want the quince pieces to be softened and somewhat tender. Prepare a jelly bag (I used cheesecloth and some string), set it over a large bowl and pour the contents of your pan or pot through the bag. The majority of the liquid should flow through to the bowl and the fruit and seeds should be contained in the bag. Tie the bag up tightly over the bowl somewhere it won’t be disturbed and let it sit for 6 hours, or overnight. Don’t squeeze the bag! Once the six hours have elapsed, measure the liquid in the bowl and move it to a large pot. Add an equal amount of sugar and the lemon juice. Stir to combine everything and boil over high heat. Continue to boil for 30-40 minutes, skimming off any grayish foam that rises to the top. Test the jelly by plopping small bits of it onto a plate and waiting for it to cool. If it’s still liquidy, it’s not ready, but if it sets into a jelly-ish blob then it’s ready. Once done, immediately pour the jelly into hot, sterile jars and seal. If you’re doing large batches you should go through all that fun canning bath stuff. I only used two quinces and ended up with one and a half small jars, so there was no need to further sterilize the jars – I’m keeping them in the fridge anyway and they’re definitely sealed. Once the jars are somewhat cool you can move them to the fridge, if desired.
I know lots of people say that they’d love to wear the fragrance of quinces if they could. I decided to check and see if Demeter made a quince perfume – and they do! I think I might order some; I used to rotate between their peach, lilac and thunderstorm scents and I absolutely love the realism of everything they make. The only drawback is that they make so many wonderful scents I tend to get overwhelmed, can’t make up my mind, and end up ordering nothing. Not this time, though.