Imagine my dismay when literally days before I was planning to pick the ripe quince, they all disappeared! There were still some fruit on the bush but tucked away and nowhere near as ripe as the beautiful yellow/orange fruit I had had my eye on, so I had to be patient and wait a little while longer. A few weeks on and this week I knocked on the door and asked if I could take the remaining fruit (it turns out the old lady's neighbour had taken what I considered to be my fruit). They are still not as ripe as I would like but apparently they do continue to ripen once picked so I decided to take my chance.
My parents also have a quince bush in their garden, so I raided that at the weekend too. Their fruit were much, much, much smaller but beautifully ripe so I decided to start making some things with these while the other, bigger fruit ripen.
Although most pickle recipes say to leave for three months to let the vinegar mellow this one can be used immediately. It has a kick from the vinegar but this is mellowed somewhat by the flavour of the quince.
Then came the fun bit where you strain the juice from the fruit. I used a (new) square muslin cloth left over from when Justin was a baby and tied string to the corners then strung it up over one of the kids chairs on top of their craft table! I placed a large pan underneath and carefully spooned the cooked quince into the bag. I then left this overnight to drip, resisting the urge to squeeze the juices through so that I only got juice and no pulp.
recipe I was following said to simmer once brought to the boil, I found after about 15 minutes that it just wasn't getting up to temperature (it needed to be about 105C) so I increased it to a boil and left it for another ten minutes or so.
It turned from a pale cloudy yellow to a rich golden colour.
I then tested if it had reached setting point by dropping a teaspoon full onto a plate I had previously put in the freezer. After about 10 seconds, the jelly had formed a skin and wrinkled when I ran my finger through it so I knew it was ready.
I let it cool for about 5 minutes then carefully poured it into four jars, two big and two mini, and there was just enough left over to pour into a pot for immediate testing!
And the verdict? In honesty, I don't remember what my Grandad's quince jelly used to taste like but the jelly I made yesterday is good. It is still an acquired taste but I love the sharpness that comes through every mouthful.
So now I have to decide what to do with the remaining ripening quince I have - more pickle or jelly or both?
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