23 October 2005
Gelée de coings
That's quince jelly. Our friend Josette (the woman we bought our house from) brought me a dozen or so quinces the other day. Somebody had given them to her, and she said she didn't have the strength in her wrists and hands to cut them up. Quinces look like large, misshapen pears, and they are very hard and hard to work with.
I had made quince jelly last year -- our neighbors across the street have a couple of trees and have invited us to take as many as we want -- and I had pretty much decided not to make any this year. It's very good, but I had a couple of jars left.
But here was a windfall of quinces, and I hated to throw them away. Anyway, last year's jelly didn't thicken enough, so it runs off the toast -- it's more like honey. This year I cooked it longer and it really jelled. I made three quarts (about 10 jars).
What you do is hack up the quinces -- peel, core, seeds and all -- and simmer the pieces in just enough water to cover them. When they are very tender and starting to fall apart, you scoop them out into a sieve. Cheesecloth in a strainer or colander is good -- if you use a kitchen towel instead of cheesecloth, be warned that your towel will be permanently discolored (I speak from experience). Let them drain. Don't press them, or not much, because you want the jelly to be clear.
When the quince chunks finish dripping, you can throw them away. Strain all the liquid and measure it. Add a kilogram of sugar for each litre of liquid (I had three litres). In U.S. terms that's 2 lbs. of sugar per quart of liquid. Then boil that until it's jelly (225ºF if you have a thermometer). The whole operation takes several hours, if not half a day. It is worth it.