So I made a quince and star anise jelly, having picked up some quinces whilst ‘in the sticks’ last weekend. I wouldn’t know where to buy such things in London (for a price, I’m sure they’re available) – but out in the country they were fairly inexpensive.
And here I must be honest. I had never really cooked with – or seen – a quince before. They are an ancient fruit, a cross between a large pear and an apple. They have an aromatic scent but most definitely cannot be eaten raw (they are rock hard, even when ripe). The fruit is not originally native to the UK. Instead, it comes from the East such as the furthermost Eastern European countries and also Turkey, Kashmir, Afghanistan and Iran.
The recipe I used is from Telegraph food writer Diana Henry and it is pretty straight forward. The only issue I have with her recipe is that she states the yield to be 1x 500g jar. Well – I followed the recipe this week and it made 10x (225g) jars. I probably would have only bought 2 lbs of quinces rather than 4 lbs (which is what the recipe stipulates) had I known the yield would be this big. Ah well, I will be giving away almost all of it, so no problem. The only other consideration is that it needed to be made in two pans (or two batches) because my large stockpot is not big enough to hold 3.5 litres of extracted juice plus sugar. When jam/jelly is in its final phase – it goes ‘volcano-like’ – meaning you have to ensure you use a pan with a lot of headroom (i.e. less than 50% full at the outset).
The taste is agreeable. Hard to describe – fruity, obviously, but not like strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, etc. More subtle. And I like the citrus flavour in it (plus the merest hint of star anise). I also like that it’s a jelly – rather than a jam. It feels less cloying, somehow. And I like how it wobbles. It also goes very well – so the recipe states – with meats (ham, pork, duck, pheasant). It’s also very good on toast – which is how I’m likely to use it.
Finally – I haven’t ‘touched up’ these pictures; no filters used. The jelly really is that deep russet-rose-red colour.