Quince Jelly Recipe

I haven’t made much jam lately. I was very excited about the process when I was just learning about it some years ago, but I soon realized it was hardly a thrifty pursuit in my case: because I live in the city, I have no need to preserve a hypothetical glut from a garden or orchard, and the price of fresh organic fruit is such that I only buy what we’ll consume in season.

I have occasionally helped my mother prepare batches of jam while on vacation at my parent’s mountain house in the summer, when it is possible to strike good deals on crates of berries or apricots at the greenmarket. Aside from that, my jam-making ambitions have been placed on the back burner.

But then I received a big gift of quinces a few weeks ago, and in addition to the poaching and the cake baking, I was inspired to make quince jelly, one of the most classic uses of the pectin-rich fruit.

In a few months, when the jelly has had time to age a bit, we’ll pop a jar open and spread some on our morning slices of pain au levain, with or without a thin insulation layer of semi-salted butter.

I turned to jam guru Christine Ferber for guidance, and followed the recipe that’s in her comprehensive book Mes Confitures.

Making quince jelly is a two-step endeavor: first, you cook chunks of whole quinces (good news! no need to peel or core them!) in water until soft. You then filter the juice they’ve produced and, after giving it a good night’s rest, you boil it with sugar and lemon juice (the acidity makes it possible for the pectin to gel*) until the jelly is concentrated enough to set.

The amount of sugar you add in the second step depends on the volume of quince juice you get out of the first, and the different recipes I’ve looked at instruct you to add anywhere between 600 grams and 1 kilogram (3 to 5 cups) sugar for each liter (or quart) of juice.

Contrary to what one might intuitively think, this has no effect on how sweet the resulting jelly is: jelly sets on the condition that it’s been brought to a target temperature of 103-105°C (or 217-221°F; at sea level), at which point the sugar concentration is 65%**. If you’ve added less sugar in the first place, your jelly will simply take more time to reach that concentration, because there will be more liquids to boil off, and you’ll end up with a lesser quantity of jelly.

Some like to flavor quince jelly with vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, or other warm spices, and I have no ideological objection to it, but I consulted with Maxence and we agreed we’d rather just enjoy the pure taste of quinces on our toast.

Because this is, naturally, the primary use we intend for the ruby lightbulbs of jelly my efforts yielded: in a few months, when it’s had time to age a bit, we’ll pop a jar open and spread some on our morning slices of pain au levain, with or without a thin insulation layer of semi-salted butter. I’m sure it will fare well on the tender flesh of a split yogurt scone, too, and I look forward to brushing the top of my apple tarts with it for shine, as is traditional.

~~~

* As Harold McGee explains on page 297 of his On Food and Cooking, the addition of lemon juice “increases the acidity, wich neutralizes the electrical charge and allows the aloof pectin chains to bond to each other into a gel.” (Don’t you love to imagine those pectin chains acting all aloof and superior?)

** “When we dissolve sugar or salt in water, the boiling point of the solution becomes higher than the boiling point of pure water. This increase in the boiling point depends predictably on the amount of material dissolved: the more dissolved molecules in the water, the higher the boiling point. So the boiling point of a solution is an indicator of the concentration of the dissolved material.” Ibid., pp. 680-681.

Quince Jelly Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Quince Jelly Recipe

Ingredients

  • ripe quinces
  • white sugar (not unrefined sugar) (950 grams or 4 3/4 cups for each liter or quart of quince juice)
  • lemon(s) (1 for each liter or quart of quince juice)

Instructions

  1. Rub the quinces with a dry cloth to remove the fuzz, then rinse and remove what's left of the blossom (the teeny leaves opposite the stem end). Using a sharp knife, quarter the fruit, check to make sure no worm lives inside, and cut into small chunks without peeling or coring.
  2. Place the fruit in a large pot, add water just to cover, place the lid on, and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 1 hour, until soft. If you have a pressure cooker, cook the fruit for 25 minutes once the target pressure is reached.
  3. Pour the fruit and juice through a fine mesh colander into a large bowl, and press the fruit gently to extract as much juice as possible. Set the fruit aside for another use (see note). Clean the colander, line it with moistened cheesecloth (or a moistened dishtowel if unavailable), and filter the juice a second time to remove all the solid particles -- this will ensure you have a nicely translucent jelly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. The next day, measure the quince juice you've obtained and pour it into the cleaned pot. For each 1 liter (1 quart) of juice, add the juice of 1 lemon and 950 grams (4 3/4 cups) sugar. (You should get 1 liter of juice from about 1.8 kilos or 4 pounds quinces.)
  5. Set the pot over medium-high heat and stir regularly until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook, skimming the foam that collects at the surface, until a cooking thermometer reads 103-105°C (217-221°F) -- this took about 10 minutes for me.
  6. If you don't have a thermometer, place a saucer in the freezer as the jelly cooks. To check whether the jelly is set, pour a drop of jelly onto the very cold saucer, wait a few seconds, then tilt the saucer: if the drop slides along the saucer, the jelly needs more cooking. If it stays put, it's ready.
  7. While the jelly is cooking, sterilize the jars and lids -- I submerge them in boiling water for 10 minutes, but you can also run them in the dishwasher or the oven. (See this site for comprehensive info on safe canning.)
  8. Pour the very hot jelly into the very hot jars using a small ladle. Wipe off the rims and any spillage with a clean, damp cloth. Close the jars tightly and let cool without disturbing. Label and put away in a cool, dark place until ready to eat. Give them a few months if possible; the flavor improves with time.

Notes

  • Process the cooked fruit through a food mill to get rid of the pits, skin, and woody bits. The filtered pulp can be sweetened, spiced, and eaten as a compote, or sweetened and cooked again to make quince paste (a.k.a. membrillo).
  • Adapted from Christine Ferber's Mes Confitures.

http://chocolateandzucchini.com/recipes/jams-nut-butters/quince-jelly-recipe/

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  • http://www.healthycultivations.com Michele @ Healthy Cultivations

    I’ve never tried a quince before. I’ve seen them but never quite knew what to do with them. Now, I have a project. Thanks for this great post.

  • Lisa Loves Boston

    How funny to see your post, as last Saturday I made quince marmalade, which is delicious! Your comment about the worms was apt, as I found several, but the quince tree had fallen in a storm and the fruit left to rot. Finding them was a delight–I had been searching all over Massachusetts and had yet to find quince for sale.

  • http://www.macaronstore.com ryan @ Macarons

    This reminds of of the years in which I used to make jams with my grandfather back in upstate NY. Nothing like a fresh, homemade jam. Fresh blackberry was my favorite!

    r

  • http://www.cook-books.com.au Judy

    When we were walking in Spain last month, we saw quinces everywhere and I kept thinking of how I used to make quince paste and quince jelly from the same batch of quinces. It’s a lot of work peeling and coring the quinces, but very worthwhile. I love the colour of quince jelly!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      The great thing about quince jelly is you don’t need to peel or core them, you just cook them whole to make the juice.

  • http://www.aplumbyanyothername.blogspot.com A Plum By Any Other Name

    Had no idea the amount of sugar used could have such an impact on how the jelly set: fascinating! This is the second post I’ve read about quince jelly: I need to find some, the color alone is inspirational.

  • T

    Being Portuguese I got to warn you, you don´t have to be that careful or picky about making quince jam/jelly or even marmelada. No need to wait for next day, or anything. Quince jelly is about as easy as it gets. I d0 know how much pectin quinces have, but it *always* works, bless them. The sugar ratio can even go as low as 2/3, quinces can handle those. Marmelos/marmelada those never *ever* fail.

    Your recipe sounds lovely though seriously, don´t worry or wait overnight about it, quinces are sort of magical and jelly (and marmelada) never fails. If you get quinces, just try cleaning them, springling a bit of sugar ( and/or cinnamon or whatever spices you like) and sprinkle it with wine (“generous” wine like Port, or marsala if you have it. If not, normal wine) and bake it for some 40+ minutes in about 200C oven. Quinces are easy that way :) the easiest of fruits….

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Giving the juice a night’s rest is recommended simply to develop the flavor of the jelly.

  • verity74

    Quince jelly is also very good with hard cheeses, such as cheddar, instead of pickle.

    In the UK it’s often sold in the cheese section of supermarkets, and sometimes gets called Membrillano paste (or Quince Cheese). The paste version hasn’t been sieved / clarified into jelly, so it’s more opaque than your ruby / pink jelly.

    Here’s a good picture of what I mean, from the supermarket I was thinking about.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Yes, membrillo is very good! It can actually be made as a byproduct of this jelly using the flesh of the fruit, as I mention at the bottom of the recipe.

  • http://www.canelakitchen.blogspot.com gloria

    My Grandmom always made quince jelly, this look fantastic, I love th photo! gloria

  • http://isabellang.blogspot.com Isabel ~ Maison Douce

    The best jelly I have ever had is a quince jelly with rose petals…. It was to die for and, ever since then, I have been wanting to recreate it! You have inspired me to get started!
    Isabel

  • Stephen

    At this very moment I am making jelly, not quince but sloe jelly and my kitchen smells of damsons with a hint of vanilla and every few minutes I have this strange urge to stick my nose in the steam wafting off the cooking sloes. Sloes, if you’ve never heard of them are the small damson-like fruits of the blackthorns that grow wild around here (southern England) in hedgerows and are fruiting at the moment. The process is pretty much the same as the one you are using for quinces and the sugar quantities the same.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’d never heard of sloes, but they sound lovely, thanks for the introduction!

  • http://swans-place.blogspot.com swan

    It looks beautiful and how I love quince jelly. Living in non-quinces-countries (Netherlands and HongKong), whenever I can get my hands on a jar of ‘bonne maman’ (the nices, clearest one compared to some other brands you may run into somewhere in the world) I will bring some.
    I read your technique on extracting the juices and remember reading this methode as well when searching the net (and David Lebovitzes blog) on making apple and/or pear jelly.
    I decided to skip this step and just use a juicer to get the juices, and leave them long enough to be able to ladle away the foam layer.. My pear jelly (with a hint of rosemary) came out just a little cloudy, but my apple jelly (with a little calvados) came out perfect. (and I could do all in one morning, just left it to stand for about 1 hour).
    If I would have had quinces I would have tried it as well (sigh…*If* ), but maybe their chemistry is a little different – or are they just to hard to get through the juicer?!
    Both the pear and the apple jelly turned out really well, nice and ‘fresh’ tasting, and I am curious to see how they develop (if they last that long).
    Beautiful picture of your jamjar!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I don’t have a juicer myself, but I’ve read about some people using one to make quince jelly, so it should work well too!

  • http://mhbakeoff.blogspot.com Maria

    I spent last week in Germany with my host family from 20 years ago, and my host mother and I spent a lovely time working through a couple of very large baskets of quince. We (she) made jelly, quince paste, and marmalade. One cool technique she showed me was to slice the quince with her electric bread slicer! Seemed dangerous to me, but it was quick and effective.

  • http://www.kmatim.co.il Lizzy

    Well we had a guava farm and a lot of times than not I’ve helped my aunt with the guava jam…It used to be a rewarding experience…

  • Mrs Redboots

    I was interested that you recommend squishing the quince puree to get out the end of the juice, as I have always been taught that this was the one thing you must NEVER do when making jellies, or the result is cloudy.

    My family prefers very fresh jam, so we often make raspberry or strawberry jam from the frozen fruit, and only ever in small batches, to enjoy it at its best.

    Sloes are nice in jelly, but nicest of all in sloe gin!

  • osage

    I foraged the fruit from a flowering quince last week, and since many of them were green, the jelly had a very lemony taste, and was pale yellow rather than amber. Then I followed the recipe on Nami-nami and make pumpkin and quince jam, using the quince juice and some pumpkin puree. It is fantastic!

    Quince has so much pectin in it that I feel free to experiment. With the rest, I’m planning to use peaches (in the freezer from this summer) and maybe some lemon verbena…

  • Daniel

    I’ve had great fun making preserves in small batches after I read this article. My first attempt used two large peaches and produced 12oz of the best peach jam I’ve ever had. Not at all labor-intensive, and I look forward to trying it with a few quince, which are quite expensive here.

  • http://www.hungrycook.com Ana

    I made quince jam & paste last week, too! Love the way it makes the kitchen smell. You can read about it here.

  • http://thedelightblog.wordpress.com/ Cassandra PW

    Thank you for the great chemistry lesson. My mother-in-law had explained this to me while we were making quince jelly, but it just sounded like some kitchen experience she was telling me about. Now I can tell her there is scientific proof for her dose!
    I did, however, find a way to get around all the sugar… add some agar to the mix! It comes out a creamier shade of rosey-orange but tastes great! I wrote my experiment here.

  • http://beyondthewindow.wordpress.com beyond

    this makes me remember my mom’s wonderful quince jelly, it looked exactly like yours: jewel coloured.

  • http://cheeseaisle.blogspot.com Elisson

    I have not tasted quince jelly in years… but I still carry a perfect sense-memory of its distinctive flavor.

    Seeing that beautiful little red jelly-bulb in the photograph has the same effect on me as the taste of Proust’s madeleine had on him…

  • http://marymaryculinary.blogspot.com/ Mary

    This looks gorgeous, and I can imagine the smell when you were cooking it was heavenly. I also live in the city, but I love to make jam. I thought I had to wait for the Seville oranges to come in, but now I am going to look for some quince. Thank you!

  • Griffin

    I agree with Maxence, a flavour like quince should be savoured untainted.

    Sloes are mainly used in Britain for Sloe gin, which is very good!! I’m sure you can get them in France it would be strange for the French not to use them in something. Good cooks always want to try new flavours after all.

  • Madonna

    I love quinces. They’re rarely available where I live. When they are, I buy as many as I think I may be able to use. Fortunately, they’re available now and no one but me seems interested in them. I tried the cake recipe from your earlier blog, and that was delicious. The jelly will be my next quince project. Even if I didn’t love the flavor, the aroma is heavenly. I’d keep a bowl of them on the kitchen counter for that reason alone.

  • http://www.5amfoodie.com 5am Foodie

    I just happen to have a bag of quinces sitting on my kitchen floor, and you have inspired me to actually do something with them before they go bad! The jelly is a lovely colour and I think would make nice Christmas gifts. That’s my weekend planned!

  • http://outoftheboxfood.blogspot.com/ pekmez

    thanks for a timely post! I found it by google search because I apparently don’t follow your blog (why?? I love every recipe I stumble across here! about to change that!) I just made quince candy / membrillo and needed soemthing to do with the remaining water from boiling the quinces. Why doesn’t everyone make both jelly and quince paste at the same time?

  • http://www.tasteofbeirut.com tasteofbeirut

    I am saving this recipe for next summer; we get a lot of quince from our orchard; by the way, I love Christine and her recipes too; she is great!

  • http://www.foreigntravelsinmyhometown.blogspot.com Hettar7

    I adore how quinces smell! They taste all right too. :) I’ve always wanted to try membrillo and I bet this jam recipe is fabulous. Thanks for posting this. I’m definitely going to have to be on the lookout for quinces.

  • http://thehospitalityguru.com.au Anna Johnston

    Thanks so much for this recipe, I adore Quince Jelly & want to make it this summer but didn’t have a recipe on hand….. this has materialised in just the right time.

  • Kareema

    Hi! Just wanted to tell you that your quince jelly recipe worked beautifully for me, and I’m in the process of making membrillo. Thanks so much!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      That’s wonderful to hear, thanks for reporting back!

  • Lori

    This is such wonderful, gorgeous stuff.
    For high altitude cooks like me (35oo ft) remember to only take your jelly to 210 degrees as the boiling point is lower up here.

  • Kate

    I recently made some quince jelly here in Australia, adding a dash of Angostura bitters. Most acceptable. Love the Super simple Nutella ice-cream article. Hilarious! x

  • paul

    what kind of jar is that in the photo?

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      It’s a Weck jar. Pretty, huh?

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