Remember the ornamental quinces? Well, they’re all cooked up and ready to eat, with a little help from apples (local), pears (local and free) and sugar. I got some ideas from Joy of Cooking
and adopted the name of one recipe there to produce these sweet-tart and pretty preserves. Or maybe it’s jam. Or conserve. You decide.
- 1 1/4 pounds ripe ornamental quince
- 1/2 orange, washed and halved
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 2 1/2 pounds other fall fruit, peeled, quartered and cored; I had about 2/3 apples and 1/3 pears
- 2 cups sugar
- Wash and halve quinces and place in heavy, nonreactive pot. (I used enameled iron.) Add orange and water.
- Place over medium-high heat, bring to boil, then simmer until quinces are soft. (I believe it was only 15-20 minutes, but I failed to write it down. Sorry.)
- Place strainer over bowl or measuring cup, and pour mixture into it. Press soft flesh through. The skin is very thin and soft and some of it may pass through the strainer, too. Don’t worry about getting all the flesh. Discard the seeds, orange and retained skin, and return the quince liquid to the pan.
- Add apples and pears, and bring to a boil. Add sugar, and bring to a boil again.
- Simmer until fruits are soft, and syrup is reduced to desired thickness. (See note.) Stir often to assure no sticking or burning. Mash fruits with potato masher.
- At this stage, you can cool and refrigerate it if you want that much around. Or, you can transfer mixture to hot, sterile jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. (I left a little more than that. So sue me.) Wipe rims clean. Add lids and rings, and process 5 minutes in boiling water bath, or according to the chart at the link above. Makes 2 pints plus a little leftover.
NOTE: Quince, including ornamental, has a fair amount of pectin in or under the skin, and mixture will thicken more after cooling. You can read more details about checking to see if it’s ready at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
I’ve learned more about ornamental quince than I ever imagined, including that they are highly unreliable as to fruiting, so I don’t know if I’ll ever make this again. But, if you have some bushes with those little fruits, which ripen from green to yellow if you’re patient, now you have some way to use them!
I assume that these preserves got their pretty pink color from the quinces, since regular quinces turn pink/red when cooked.
Meanwhile, I haven’t yet tried to pawn a jar off on the owner of the quince bushes. When I got the fruit she said, “No, no! You don’t need to give me anything!” I’m not sure whether that meant she and her husband aren’t jelly-eaters or if she was being gracious. (She’s always gracious, actually.)
By the way, shortly after I made this I came across some regular quinces at the supermarket, hauled in from I’m-not-sure-where. They were about quadruple the size of these, looking like lumpy oversized pears. Believe me, there would be no confusing the two!