If it is good enough for the Owl and the Pussy Cat…..

I love quinces. I love the taste and I love the fragance. I first properly encountered quince when we rented a house with a tiny garden. The garden was dominated by a large and very productive quince tree. I made pots of jelly and jam that year.

When we moved to our current house, I planted a quince tree, but it didn’t flourish. It developed rust on its leaves and didn’t receive enough energy to grow, let alone produce fruit. Fortunately, my parents planted one at the same time, and their tree is very productive. I popped round last weekend, and left with a big bag of quince. (Happy little dance of joy!).  The fragrance of quince is wonderful. Forget fresh flowers. One quince will scent a room, no problem. I wish I could share the heady aroma with you.

Trivia on Quince:

  • there is evidence that quince was cultivated and being grown before apples
  • quince marmalade was the choice preserve centuries before orange marmalade was developed
  • some people believe that Eve’s apple was really a quince
  • its rumoured that if a pregnant woman eats quince, then her child will be highly intelligent. (before you ask, yes I did. More by accident than by intention)
  • “The Owl and the Pussy Cat” dined on it.

I made quince jelly. Pots of it. I have made quince jam in the past, but I wasn’t keen on the grainy texture. Jelly on the other hand is the nectar of the Gods. I’m tempted to try the Quince and Marrow jam this year. The above jar does not do credit to the lovely rosy colour of quince jelly. Below captures it better.

The quince flesh is creamy, yet it cooks up pink. When I make any fruit jelly or jam, I always make sure I bake bread rolls beforehand.

Tell me, is there a better way to taste warm jelly, but on fresh homemade bread?

(AJ disagrees. She just scraped it straight out of the cooling preserve pan once I’d finished potting up, declaring it as her very favourite jelly. Hmm. Maybe I need to make a few more pots.)

Recipe for quince jelly

  1. Put 4lb of washed and roughly chopped quince (all of it) and the grated rind and juice of 3 lemons (or just roughly chop) into a preserve pan with 4 pints of water. Simmer for about an hour until the fruit is truly squashy.
  2. Strain through a jelly bag overnight.
  3. (optional) Put the contents of the jelly bag back into pan with 2 pints of water, simmer for half an hour and repeat stage 2.
  4. Put both strained juices back in the pan, with 1 lb of sugar for ever pint of juice.
  5. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then boil until setting point reached. Scoop scum out and pot as usual.


14 thoughts on “If it is good enough for the Owl and the Pussy Cat…..

  • Monday 25 October, 2010 at 3:00 am

    Hello Cheryl, after you visited my blog I found my way here. How incredibly creative you are. I love the little pumpkin hats you made and the beautiful little cardigans… I look at my wool sitting in my craft closet all the time and want so badly to just sit and knit or crochet – I’ve never knitted a jersey because we don’t need them and it’s just so hot to work with wool. I’m waiting for some cooler weather so I can make a few projects – I love it, it’s so meditative. We hardly spend time indoors so I usually have a couple of hours in the evening to do something creative… such a different life huh. We are hopefully relocating to Colorado soon so I can enjoy a cooler climate and be more creative with all those wonderful woolies.
    I’ve never tried or seen quinces – you make them sound delicious and I’ve always wanted an apple tree! We do have fields of citrus and my favorite coconuts that the children indulge in every day. Have a beautiful creative week!

    • Monday 25 October, 2010 at 11:57 pm

      My knitting activities definitely tail off in the summer, but I love it in the winter. Keeps me warm and makes me feel less guilty about sitting down. Love the idea of fields of citrus. The recipes I would try!

  • Monday 25 October, 2010 at 5:10 am

    Ahh, this is so timely! Someone just gave me a bag of quince for free. The man grows apples but he has one quince tree on his property, and he says he’s going to cut it down because no one under the age of 50 knows or cares what quince is! And it hurts him to see them go to waste. Shame. Anyway, he gave me a bag and I’m going to attempt to make jam tomorrow. Thanks for the interesting post.

    • Monday 25 October, 2010 at 11:39 pm

      I’m so glad you have a bag of quinces and have plans for it, but how sad that there is no perceived market for this wonderful fruit. I bet it would change if he offered tasters of quince jelly. Enjoy your jam.

  • Monday 25 October, 2010 at 8:33 am

    I have seen many quinces around the blogosphere recently and am intrigued. Do you have any suggestions as how a gardenless recently-transplanted urbanite would find some?

    • Monday 25 October, 2010 at 11:35 pm

      Good question. Since discovering the fruit, I’ve always been able to source it. I have seen them in farm shops and farmers markets. I’m yet to see them in a greengrocers or supermarket, although I don’t go to either very often. Might be worth putting up a wanted notice in the corner shop of likely neighbourhood, health shop or freecycle. Good luck. It is worth the hunt.

  • Monday 25 October, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Ooh yes, I love the quince too – the smell is divine and they last forever. It’s probably the one fruit I would always make jam with (we’re not big eaters of jam in our family) , but this one is delicious. We had one growing in our garden when we were little so when we bought our house I had to get one for our garden. Lovely.

    • Monday 25 October, 2010 at 11:23 pm

      Could not agree more, Dawn. I wish our tree had survived, but my parent’s tree provides enough quinces for all the extended family, so I do feel fortunate.

  • Monday 25 October, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    You know I have never heard of a quince? Love your pictures, and wow, does that fresh bread and jelly look yummy. It’s a good thing we don’t live closer or I might be inviting myself over for tea :).

    • Monday 25 October, 2010 at 11:14 pm

      You would be more than welcome. I suspect that quinces have gone out of fashion, and therefore less well known, as they are hard and have to be cooked. Much easier to grab an apple or a banana. If you come across a pot of quince jelly, try it. It is good on bread or served up with meat. The fruit can be used in puddings and stews. It is a lovely fruit.

  • Tuesday 26 October, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I would love a quince tree – I have a friend who has and every year I can’t believe how wonderful the scent is. I am going to go and see about planting one this year – then maybe soon I can make my own gorgeous jelly! 😀

    • Tuesday 26 October, 2010 at 2:20 pm

      I’d say, go for it. It is such a versatile fruit that there are lots of savory and sweet recipes to use them for. I’ve put some aside to add to winter stews. I’m wondering if I dare risk planting another tree in a different part of the garden.

  • Wednesday 27 October, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Oh, how nice! I love quince cheese. Have you tried? Yumyum. Ejoy your Quinces!

    • Wednesday 27 October, 2010 at 10:16 pm

      I made quince cheese the first year we grew quince. I must have got it slightly wrong as it was super sticky. I ended up rolling the “cubes” in icing sugar to make them possible to handle. Turned out like turkish delight. Too much sugar, so I’ve not tried again.

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