Earlier this week, I visited my lovely friends Louise and Andy who have recently left London to start a new life in the country. They've set themselves up in an idyllic canal side cottage and have embraced a world of bucolic bliss without a backward glance. One of their neighbours had given them some quinces and Louise was presenting an image of a 1950s domestic goddess by knocking up a batch of Quince Jelly in between putting the bairn to bed and cooking the evening supper. Oh how things have changed from those hedonistic University days
If you manage to get hold off some quinces then Quince Jelly is one of the simplest preserves to make as the high pectin levels of the fruit means that it sets very easily. To give this a go, you'll need to get your hands on a jelly bag or muslin cloth to strain the juices, along with some jars to store your preserve in.
Juice of one lemon
To get started, pick through your quinces and remove any leaves or ones that look past their best. Give them a good wash and then pop them all in a large pan and cover with water. Slowly bring this to the boil and then turn down to simmer gently for about 30 minutes or until the fruit has gone pulpy and soft.
Next, spoon the mixture into a jelly bag or a colander lined with a muslin cloth and suspend over a pan (Louise hung her's from the tap - clever), and leave it to strain. Don't try to force the liquid through as this will make it cloudy.
When it's finally drained (I usually leave it overnight), add the sugar and lemon juice and slowly bring to the boil whilst stirring occasionally. Once the sugar is dissolved, leave it at a rolling boil for anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes testing it every five minutes to see if the setting point is reached. You do this by chilling some saucers and then dropping a small amount of the liquid onto the cool saucer and leaving it for 60 seconds. If the mixture wrinkles when gently pushed then you're ready to go. As the mixture is boiling you will need to regularly skim the scum off the top to make sure you have a clear jelly.
Once setting point is reached, pour into sterilised jars (you can sterilise in the dishwasher or by boiling the jars in a pan for a good five minutes), seal and label up. Unopened your jelly should keep for at least a year as long as you have done your sterilising thoroughly. Make sure you don't throw away your pulp as this can be used to make quince paste. If you don't have time to do it straight away, then the pulp can be stored in your fridge for up to a week.