Monday, October 15, 2018

Quince Jelly

When we first moved to our rural property over 30 years ago there was a shrub near the old farmhouse (circa 1904) that had fruit on the boughs that looked like pears, but with fuzz on them. In September they started to turn yellow and in late September the fuzz mostly disappeared and they were bright yellow and smelled wonderful, but not like pears. We found out that this was a pineapple quince shrub and that the fruits were hard and not edible until cooked.

One of the easiest things to do with the quince is to make jelly because you don't even need to peel them, just remove the stem and core them, then cut into quarters or chunks. I do give them a good wash before I do that and I remove the flower end, too. Since I don't spray the shrub or fruit with any kind of chemical spray, the fruits also often include evidence of insect infestation, so those parts need to be cut out, too.

This time I cooked a larger quantity than in past times. Turns out that wasn't the smartest thing to do because as I boiled the mixture to bring it up to the correct temperature, the mixture threatened to boil over and eventually did, making a big mess on the stove. I did end up with over 8 pints of jelly instead of 6-7 pints, but next time I plan to go back to the amount in the recipe!

This makes a wonderful jelly that isn't available in most stores. It has a bright ruby color and an almost floral fragrance and taste. If you have access to quinces, do try it. It makes a nice, and unusual, gift, too. Never too early to think about Christmas gifts. This is obviously a seasonal recipe since quince are only ripe in the fall, but if you find some ripe quince, go for it now. You'll be glad you did.

Quince Jelly
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 1 cup) for every cup of juice (about 4 -5 cups)

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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

8 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.

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.

9 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.

10 Use a large ladle to pour the jelly into the sterilized jars to 5/8 inch from the top rim of the jar. Use canning jars with canning lids to seal the jelly. 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.

(To be safe, we put the jars full of jelly, topped with sterilized lids and bands, into a canning pot, added boiling water to cover, plus an inch, and simmered that for 45 minutes, then let cool. Check the lids for a good seal my noticing if the lids are concave. If not, push down on the center. If the lid stays down, it is sealed. If not, refrigerate and use the jelly within a week. )

Makes 4-6 cups of jelly. We got 6½ 8-oz. jars of jelly.


  1. There's always the joy of making some kind of fruit-lava spatter over countertops. I'm EXCITED that you have quince, though. That's so neat - and that it's an old, old shrub as well. We haven't seen anything like in these parts, but honestly, the wild pears are kind of a surprise - some Asian pears as well, as there's a pre-war Japanese farming area here (from which people were, unfortunately, moved).

  2. I think you need a bigger pot!
    That looks like fabulous quince jelly.