OK Firstly I don’t bake. Secondly, I do make pickles, but they are to my taste and horrendeously strong. Thirdly, I have some very wonderful raspberry vodka in the cupboard, but I really couldn’t write out a recipe for it! In any case I’d feel bad if anyone else but me died from alcohol poisoning.
So, I’ve been panicking about what to make for Vanessa Kimbell’s Christmas Blogger event!
I made a batch of quince jelly a couple of weeks ago, so when I saw some more quinces at the Parson’s Green Farmer’s Market I thought that seemed like a brilliant plan! The very nice man selling them to me advised me to try rosemary quince jelly. And Karen from Lavender and Lovage was chatting with me and telling me that her family preferred a little lemon juice in their jelly. So, I thought I’d have a go!
Now, my original recipe was a very basic one from the internet here To turn this into rosemary quince jelly, I put two large sprigs of rosemary in the pan with my quinces at the start. And, I added a little lemon juice, which I think has improved the flavour too!
Quince (I started with about one and a half pounds)
Sugar (just under a pound per pint of strained pulp)
4 or 5 sprigs of rosemary
Lemon juice (2 teaspoons per pint of juice)
Chop the quince into halves or quarters and cover with water in a largish pan with the rosemary. Bring the mix to the boil and simmer gently for an hour or so till you have an apple sauce type consistency pulp. Be careful when you are doing that, the quince mixture can stick to the bottom of the pan and burn if you don’t stir ocasionally or if you let the mixture dry out too much. Once everything is mushy, use a potato masher to pulp the mixture down, before putting into a jelly bag and LEAVING it! Gentle readers, if like me you have no patience, try starting the process about 3 hours before bed time. That way, you will start straining about an hour before bedtime…and won’t be tempted to mess around with fork, potato masher or whatever trying to get more juice out of the bag!
Take the resulting quince liquid and measure it. Add just under 1lb of sugar for every pint of juice. I find this way of working out quantities useful, because quince tends to be sold by the punnet, so starting with an exact measure to suit a recipe isn’t that easy.
Once you have the juice and sugar in a pan, add lemon juice. I was working with 3/4 pint of juice and added 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. It reached setting point much, much faster than the previous batch perhaps because of the lemon juice, or perhaps because I had a few quite green quinces in there.
Make sure you have sterilized jars ready.
Stirring constantly till all the sugar has dissolved bring the mixture to a fast boil and keep it boiling, testing after about 8 minutes. If you have a preserving thermometer this bit is easy. You need to get the temperature to about 8 degrees above the point at which it first boiled. If not, you need to do a saucer test. Now, I’ve been making jams for years. I think my grandma taught me how to do this about 40 years ago! Just take a little of the mixture in a teaspoon and drop it onto a clean cold saucer. Wait till it cools then try to ‘wrinkle’ it with your finger. If it’s ready, there will be a wrinkly skin as you push with your finger tip. The link I posted earlier has some great photos of this if you are not sure what I mean. There are other clues. The mix in the pan will darken slightly, the bubbles get bigger and the whole mixture dip down a bit in the pan. I like quince jelly to be quite set. Not quite ‘cheese’ but nearly. That just needs about 30 seconds of extra cooking before you pour into jars. Push a sprig of rosemary into the jelly mixture before you seal the jars up. It should stay nicely in the middle of the mixture!
Patience has paid off. My jelly IS clear. Well, at least it’s as clear as it’s going to get!!!!
Serve with cheese or cold meats. I think this might also be rather good with venison fillet. And, hurrah, I have a jar for me and a jar to give away!