Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Quixotic Quince

I was gifted with a big box of quinces a couple of weeks ago. They've been in the garage, which doubles as my cold cellar, and making my husband's "smoking lounge" smell heavenly. In the past I have enjoyed putting a few in a bowl (after grabbing them off the ground when they fall from neighborhood hedges or trees--no one knows what to do with these fruits! I am an inveterate fruit forager) and letting them scent the house for weeks; as they mellow in the bowl the sweet but herby fragrance is wonderful.

I once gave some quinces to a friend who was a mead brewer and he made some amazing mead from them; this is a fine use for these fruits if you know any mead makers.

But I recently learned they make a really good jam, and since they have so much natural pectin, I get to use my tried and true method for jam making, which is, you guessed it, not using pectin. I found this simple recipe and this website seems to have a pretty straightforward approach to canning and preserves.

I visited the Cloisters in New York two years ago in early November when the quinces were enormous on the trees: perfect, round, yellow, blemish-free. The garden there also has some delightful herb gardens and some espaliered pear and apple trees.

Alas, the fruits I have are likely to be worm-ridden...but I get I can still get some jam out of them!

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