A Jammy Experiment with a glut of Japonica (Ornamental) Quinces

Autumn is the time of year when there is usually an abundance of  free produce kicking around. Apples are the usual suspects.  Our humble cooking apple tree has just yielded a record crop of apples and one of the freezer draws is packed to the max with puréed apple unsweetened and ready to use in crumbles, desserts or with a succulent grilled pork chop!

I’ve always romanticised about quinces; Exotic sounding and with origins in the Far East. I love the classic Spanish combo of Manchego cheese and Mebrillo paste or its English version quince jam and a strong mature unpasteurised English cheddar like Keen’s Cheddar  .Every year I see my mother-in-law’s japonica shrub laden with fruit and the thought crosses my mind that there’s a jam making opportunity in the offing. Then something else gets in the way!  Come Christmas lunch, we’re tucking into the cheeseboard and there’s me wishing I’d grasped the nettle or the quince and made that jam!

I’m also quite competitive, so when, a few weekends ago when my mother-in-law arrived at the door with a bag of quinces, picked from her garden, and threw down the gauntlet by saying “Are these going to end up like the others in the food compost?” I just had to rise to the challenge!

The Quinces Arrived

The Quinces Arrived

At this point it hadn’t actually occurred to me that ornamental quinces might not be as cook friendly as the tree varietal and so I set about searching for various recipes. One thing was for sure ,these little golden beauties that had been freshly harvested that morning were also a mass of core and seeds so I was keen to find a recipe that would hopefully minimise the hassle factor.

My research led me to this rough algorithm for creating a jam from these little beauties.

Ingredients

1.5kg of japonica quince

2.25 Litres of water

185g granulated sugar

In addition enough granulated sugar to equal the volume of pulp created after boiling ( around 500g, but do measure out the pulp!)

Enough Jam Jars to fill….

Method:

Clean the quinces by washing and then rubbing dry with a cloth or tea towel.

Cut any bumps from one end of the quinces to enable them sit in the bottom of a large preserving pan or saucepan snuggly during the boiling phase.

Pack the quinces into the preserving pan and add the entire volume of water sprinkling the 185g of granulated over the top so it dissolves in the water. Pre warming the sugar in an oven may accelerate the dissolution speed.

Gradually bring to the boil and Boil gently for 2 hours. After about 90 minutes you will notice that the quince start to turn pink!

Quinces halfway through boiling

Quinces halfway through boiling

Lift out of the pan after 2 hours with a slotted spoon.

Cut in half, remove the pips and core using a small tea spoon if easier ( this is the really fiddly bit and will probably temporarily take away your will to live! Do not give up at this point!)

Take the pulp and pass it through a metal sieve

Take the sieved pulp and any remaining juice weigh this and add an equal proportion of granulated sugar to the pulp.

Return to the saucepan and heat slowly until  the sugar dissolves and then boil rapidly for 20 mins.

Make sure you have a supply of sterilised jam jars at the ready.

Once the jam has set ,bottle immediately and enjoy with your favourite cheeses or meats!

We did have a small amount left over after bottling and used this as a taster with a particularly strong English Cheddar.

Quiche Jam, English Cheddar and Walnut Bread

Quiche Jam, English Cheddar and Walnut Bread

The quince jam was a balance of sweetness and sharp acidity and was a perfect partner to the rich density of the cheddar! Delicious! We also tried this with some lamb chops instead of redcurrant jelly and this also worked extremely well too!

The finished product

The finished product

I now have 2 jars of this waiting patiently for this year’s Christmas Lunch cheeseboard.

And the best bit is this recipe is as frugal as you like with the total cost of production coming out at less than a few pounds including electricity! Brilliant

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7 thoughts on “A Jammy Experiment with a glut of Japonica (Ornamental) Quinces

  1. Tim, another great blog, though not good for my waistline, as I am now yearning for cheese…! I have a question for you..what are your thoughts on a wine match for a Red Leicester and roasted pear tart, I’m thinking a Chardonnay (yes, you read that correctly..) or a Chenin Blanc, but I’d like your thoughts. Best Wishes..

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    • Louise, your suggestion of a Chardonnay is not as bizarre as you think! Increasingly when serving a cheese course at dinner parties Chez Moi I like a good white Burgundy with the cheese. It seems to work with a variety particularly some of the mature hard cheese like your Red Leicester. Laithwaites gave a nice St.Aubin and a Rully at present. Remember to take out of the fridge a good 30 mins before opening as these fine white Burgundies really sing when warmed up but never show their true character when too chilled. Ideally somewhere around 10C. Enjoy La Tarte!

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      • Thanks for the suggestion Tim, it’s for our big British Hairdressing Awards night at The Grosvenor House Hotel, so I’ll refer back to their wine list and see what White Burgundies they have
        , though I’m not sure most of my team will care whatever they’re served – they looked in horror when I mentioned wine pairing with each course. It’s probably wasted on them, but Paul and I shall enjoy regardless.

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  2. That was a really enjoyable read & I am a big fan of quince paste!!
    Have an amazing time in SA Gillian & Tim and I can’t wait to hear about all your food & wine experiences.

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    • Thank Leah! We’re having an awesome trip. Think there may be a bit of a time lag on the posts though as we’ve already done loads and not enough time to sit dos in to do some writing.

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