You will know I make quite a bit of different fruit jams here at Struan Farm. This summer I made strawberry, blueberry and blackcurrant. Since we ran out of homemade jam at the end of last year's farmstay season I decided to make sure we had more than enough in the pantry this year. Store bought jam, heaven forbid! I've made apricot and plum jams in the past as well. But my homemade jams are really for guests and the grandkids mostly, John and I don't consume much toast or jam ourselves.
This past week my friend Glen shipped me a box of surplus quince from her orchard in Motueka. She confessed up front that they were spotted, bruised and battered, but could be used for making jelly. Jelly. Hmmm, I'd never made jelly before, and we don't eat much if any of that either. My mother used to make strawberry jelly, I remember dripping cheese cloth bags in the cellar and jars sealed with melted wax. I've operated under the (perhaps incorrect) impression that jelly was more complicated to make than jam.
I then harvested our own, rather meagre, crop of quinces.
Now John isn't crazy about my Nigel Slater roast quince recipe, a dessert dish that I absolutely love and whip out at this time of the year. I've posted a link on the blog several times, but if you search for Nigel Slater roast quince recipe you will find it. Quinces are poached in a sugar syrup until soft and then roasted with maple syrup and aromatic cloves, star anise, cinnamon. Yum. Spiced, warm, autumnal yum.
But on the spur of the moment I decided to give jelly a try. What not? If nothing else it would keep my brain alive learning something new for another day. And coincidentally we had more than 1 kg. of our own Struan Farm unblemished quinces (sorry Glen). I've still got a few left to roast for me.
I found what looked to be an easy recipe by Allyson Gofton. The unpeeled fruit is roughly chopped and put into a pan with one halved, thick-skinned lemon and water:
It is brought to the boil, cooked until soft for one hour, and then left to cool for at least 2-3 hours. This can be left overnight. The cooled fruit is then strained through a jelly bag or muslin/cheese cloth over a colander. The trick here is not to squeeze the fruit so the resultant juice is clear not cloudy. Lucky for me, our friends at Country Trading were able to express courier a pack of their beautiful organic cotton cheese cloth. (The rural courier gods smiled indeed, and the cheese cloth was here in Piopio the next day from Ruby Bay, amazing service!)
The juice is then measured, and put into a preserving pan with 1 cup of sugar for each cup of juice. I had 2 1/3 cups of juice. It didn't look like all that much, to be honest, but it was a beautiful light pink.
Once the sugar is added it is stirred until dissolved over low heat. The pot is then brought to the boil and boils for about 15 minutes or until "set point" is reached. Some people screw around with thermometers, I just put a plate into the freezer and drizzle the hot jelly/jam across. If you can run your finger through it and it stays put, you're done.
The recipe yielded two jars, which is perfect for us. The jelly has a lovely, delicate flavour and a beautiful pink colour. What's interesting to me is that John, who professes not to like quince, was spooning it out of the pan to eat. Seems I've both learned how to make jelly and found something quince that John does like!
p.s. these retro looking Agree jars are also available on Country Trading, along with the rings and tops. They're a good size for jams/jellies and the tops seal well. If you don't know about Country Trading, you should.