Try Quince Jam

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MARILYN H. HOIJER
Finished quince jam has a rosy color.

In my
section of California (and throughout Zones 5 through 8 on
the USDA’s plant hardiness map), anybody who takes a summer drive down
country roads may see a number of large bushes that will be
loaded come harvest time with attractive,
apple-sized, golden fruit. Those delicious-looking globes
are quinces (Cydonia oblonga) and–while they’re not
used for much more than an occasional treat for livestock
nowadays–the puckery-when-raw fruits were once the
main ingredient in a mouthwatering array of early American
pies, marmalades, jellies, and jams.

If you can stake out
an available quince bush while you’re on an outing this
summer, that single shrub–once its fruit ripens–will
probably provide you with all the fixings you’ll need.
Better yet, since most people consider the fruits
inedible, you shouldn’t have any trouble obtaining
permission to pick them. Why not get yourself a bucketful
(about 10 pounds), gather together some honey, jars, and
paraffin and give my grandmother’s quince jam recipe
a try!

First scrub each fruit to remove its fuzzy coating,
but don’t peel off its skin. Then quarter the washed
quinces and push out their seeds without trying to
remove the cores. Put the quince wedges in a large pan and
add enough water to cover the slices by about half an inch.

Bring the kettle to a boil and let it simmer until the
fruit becomes soft (this should take between 20 and 30
minutes). Let the pot cool, then drain off the juice and
save it. At this point you can easily remove the sections
of core from each quince slice, and then break the pieces
up–a few at a time–in your blender or food
grinder, adding extra water if necessary.

Once all the
cooked fruit has been “through the mill,” return the
“quince sauce” to the pan–along with the juice
drained off earlier–and add honey to taste. (The
sweetness of quinces will vary from year to year or tree to
tree, so it’s hard to predict exactly how much honey
the recipe will need. I just start with about a third of a
cup of sweetener to each cup of fruit and let my
tastebuds take it from there.)

Now bring the mixture to a
boil and “let ‘er roll” for 10 minutes, stirring
constantly. Then lower the heat to simmer and let the jam
cook for about 10 to 15 minutes (don’t stop mixing it!), or
until the sauce takes on a lovely shade of pink. The rosy
color is the signal that your jam is done. Simply pour
it into sterile glasses and seal your tasty treat for use
during the rest of the year!