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!

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