Thursday, 28 March 2013

Luscious Quince Jelly

True to my word I've spent the last couple of days making the most luscious quince jelly.  The time was well spent as the result is half a dozen jars of beautiful clear ruby red quince jelly - just in time for leisurely Easter breakfasts!

To make the jelly, after washing the brown fur off eight of the largest quinces, I chopped them into eighths - leaving the cores in and skin on as this is where the pectin is found. The pieces were then placed immediately into enough water to cover them - in my pressure cooker. I added the juice of a lemon to the water to prevent the quinces from browning. I then cooked the quince pieces under pressure for 25 minutes from when steaming pressure was reached. This served to speed up the process of cooking the quinces. If you do not have a pressure cooker simply boil your quinces in a large pot until they are soft.

I allowed the quinces and the juices to cool a little before straining them through muslin (laid in a stainless steel colander) into a large porcelain bowl. Note: at this stage do not press heavily on the quince pieces to extract any more juice than will drain naturally from them as it will cloud your finished jelly. The beautiful pink juices were allowed to cool and rest overnight in the covered bowl. 

The cooked quince pieces were placed in the frig - I will attempt my first batch of quince paste (membillo) with these. I must say that I do like the idea of two different preserves from the one batch of fruit!

Today I measured the juice - there were eleven cups - and decided to cook it in two equal batches. I added a cup of sugar for each cup of juice and stirred the mixture over medium heat until the sugar had completely dissolved. I then cranked up the heat and cooked the mixture until it reached 103 C (around 220 F) on my Kitchencraft candy thermometer - investing in one of these takes all the guess work out of knowing if your jams, jellies or syrups have reached appropriate temperatures. I wouldn't be without mine!

It is important to watch and stir the jelly mixture constantly during the cooking process as it boils with a froth that climbs the sides of the pan and overflows onto the cooktop. This only happened to me with the first batch when I left the pot to make a cup of tea! I watched and stirred the second batch like an eagle!

Once setting point had been reached I poured the mixture to completely fill my sterilised jars, screwed on - tightly - the metal lids (also sterilized), and inverted the jars until cooled. As the jars cool a vacum will be created which will invert the lids and seal them.

I love my quince jelly served on toasted sourdough bread or a fresh warm scone topped with a dollop of cream! Yum! 

Bring on breakfast! 

Happy Easter, everyone!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Pot Roasted Quinces

Recently I was lucky enough to have been given another of my favourite fruits - quinces. They were a bit green and so have been quietly ripening in a bowl on the kitchen bench. 

Quinces must surely be the king of fruits. Grown since ancient times they are versatile and, while too dry and astringent to eat fresh, can be used in a wide range of both savoury and sweet dishes.

Today I made gorgeous deep red pot roasted quinces based on Maggie Beer's recipe - found in her wonderful book 'Maggie's Table'. The first batch were so gloriously beautiful that I was inspired to make a second batch!

The recipe is simplicity itself - however the quinces do need to simmer away on the cook-top for 5 to 6 hours to develop their beautiful colour - so don't plan on going out!.

The method I use to make the quinces is to place 5 cups of water in a large heavy based saucepan. Add 5 cups of sugar and bring to the boil. Stir to ensure that all the sugar has dissolved before gently lowering 6 evenly sized quinces into the pot. Bring the pot to the boil again cooking the quinces for 30 minutes. Lower the heat and let the pot simmer gently until the quinces are a beautiful deep red in colour and the cooking liquid has reduced to a thick jelly. Turn the quinces gently in the liquid every 30 minutes to ensure even colouring of the fruit. In the last hour of cooking add the juice of 2 or 3 freshly squeezed lemons. That's it! Enjoy!

The quinces - pictured below - will be stunning served with thick cream and icecream at our Easter family lunch. 

Tomorrow I'm thinking I'll make Quince Jelly with the remainder of the quinces!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Apricot Tart

I love apricots - they are surely one of the most delectable of summer fruits! I have wonderful summer memories of eating warm, juicy, freshly picked apricots from a tree that had pride of place in my parent's garden. The bountiful apricot harvests were made into wonderful jams and chutneys, as well as being preserved, stewed, frozen and baked!

Given how versatile and easily available the humble apricot is here in Australia  I am constantly amazed at how few apricot recipes are featured in the cookbooks I love to collect! To address this oversight I will endeavour share the best apricot recipes I know with you!

It is fitting therefore that the first featured dish of my blog is ..... Apricot Tart!

To make this tart I made a sweet shortcrust pastry which I blind baked until it was just starting to turn golden. I then spread a frangipane mixture over the base, followed a layer of sweetened stewed apricots (about 500grams). The tart was topped with apricot halves that I had gently poached in a light sugar syrup. The tart was then baked in a moderate oven until the frangipane and crust were cooked nicely - and my kitchen smelled divine!

Served warm with fresh cream this was just beautiful!

If you have a favourite apricot recipe I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, 9 March 2013


Welcome to Apricot Tart! This blog is a place to share my passion for food, family and living life to the full! I'm Marian - a wife, mum and granny - and known for my energy, enthusiasm and infectious laugh! I live in the most liveable city in Australia - beautiful Adelaide. 

Please join me on adventures in my kitchen!
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