Easy Quince Jam. A smooth and delicious jam made of quince, sugar, and lemon juice. A Fall treat that you can enjoy every time of the year in a jam form, to spread on toast, on your crostata, or as an accompaniment to your cheese board.
Song of the day: The Long Way Home - Norah Jones
Quince is the sole member of the genus Cydonia in the family Rosaceae which also contains apples and pears, among other fruits (Wiki). This Autumn apple has a hard and somewhat fuzzy skin and an uninviting appearance, however, when cooked, they are excellent for jams, jellies, and mustards.
Quince is harvested in October when it's ripe and has a characteristic intense yellow color and a beautiful smell. It is a very delicate fruit that spoils really easily. If kept in a cool, dark and dry place, though, quince can be kept for several weeks. Quince is rich in pectin and therefore ideal for the preparation of jams and jellies.
For a long time, these fruits that resemble a strange cross between an apple and a pear were not eaten but were intended for other purposes. In many houses, as well as mine in Italy, they were used for their fragrance to perfume wardrobes and drawers. It was a long time before the peasant families tried to use quince in the kitchen, giving life to a long tradition of jams and preserves.
My father, the jam master in our house in Italy, has been making Quince Jam for many years and as a matter of fact, while I was in my kitchen in Canada making my quince jam, he was also in his kitchen doing the same, making Marmellata di Mele Cotogne. This is his recipe, the only thing I changed, I reduced the amount of sugar. His ratio is 1:1 which means for every kilo of quince puree he adds 1 kg of sugar.
How to Make Quince Jam
- Thoroughly wash the quince under cold running water and scrub well to remove all the fuzz. Don't peel them. The skin of the quince is a source of pectin, a natural thickener that facilitates the gelling of jam.
- Cut them in slices using a sharp knife because their skin is very hard. Quince pulp blackens quickly, so as you peel them, place them in a big bowl with water and lemon juice to slow down the oxidation process.
- Next, boil the sliced quince in just enough water to cover them.
- Remove the now soft pieces of quince from the water and pass them through a food mill or potato ricer to obtain a puree.
- The hard parts will stay in the food mill and you will be left with a smooth quince purée.
- Once you have the quince purée, weigh it and calculate 500 g of sugar per kilo of purée obtained.
- Transfer the purée to a dutch oven or a pot with a heavy bottom. Add sugar and lemon juice.
- Cook over medium heat for 20-30 minutes, or until the jam reaches the desired density. During cooking, remember to stir the jam often with a spatula or a wooden spoon to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.
- Ladle or funnel the hot quince jam into sterilized hot jars, leaving 1 cm from the edge. Wipe the rim, and seal tight with the lids.
Once cooked, quinces release an intense sweetness and delightful honey and vanilla fragrance with a backdrop of citrus which makes it very intriguing. Quince Jam has a lovely texture, kind of like a thickened applesauce. The color has a rich golden hue that will be able to brighten the gloomiest of winter days.
The properties of Quince Jam
Quince Jam is rich in fiber. It mainly supplies simple carbohydrates while fats and proteins are not present in relevant quantities. Cholesterol is absent. Compared to other jams, Quince Jam is generally less caloric. Furthermore, this jam is suitable -more than any other jam- for those suffering from constipation. Moreover, it has a relaxing effect great for combating stress.
Quince Jam is perfect to:
- accompany cheeses, both aged, or fresh;
- pair with chicken, turkey, or pork either during cooking, or as a sauce to accompany the dish;
- fill cakes, cookies, and tarts.
If you're at your local Farmer's Market and your eyes are captured by these interesting looking fruit, grab a basket and try this jam.
Update one year later using more sugar
As a matter of fact, this year I made quince jam again with quinces found at the same stand at the same farmer's market. In this case, I decided to follow my father's recipe thoroughly and use the same amount of sugar and quince puree (1:1). This caused the jam to be sweeter of course, but also thicker and more orangy in color. While still being delicious, to my taste, the quince jam done this way is a little too sweet and also too solid; I prefer my jams on the runnier side and not very sweet.