08 November 2009

Making quince juice

One of the first posts I ever did on this blog was about making quince jelly. There I said I had made a batch in 2004 and another in 2005. The second batch was much nicer than the first because it thickened and set up as a really nice jelly. Both batches were delicious. This year is the first one since then in which we've had a really good crop of quinces.

Now I'm making the jelly again, but I'll be using a new recipe and a new kind of sugar — one that has pectin in it. That should reduce the cooking time. Actually, quinces supposedly contain a lot of pectin, as do apples.

The relatively big apple in this picture gives you an idea
how big quinces can get. One of these bopped me on the head.

What you do is chop up the fruit — skin, core, seeds, and all — and put the pieces in a big pot. Barely cover them with water and put them on to simmer for at least an hour after the liquid comes to a boil. What you end up with is a certain quantity of unsweetened juice that you can use for making jelly. Strain the cooked quinces through a cloth to filter the juice. The process is the same as for making apple jelly.

Slightly smaller quinces

What are quinces? They are a big, hard, lumpy fruit that looks kind of like a pear on steroids. You can't really eat quinces raw, at least not until they have started to rot or ferment. You can, however, peel, core, and slice them and then pan-cook the slices in butter until they are golden and caramelized. They're good served with pork, duck, or turkey.

Cut the quinces up into big chunks and simmer them for
an hour or more
with their skins, cores, and seeds.

Immature quinces are covered in a kind of fuzz, kind of like peaches. But the quince fuzz rubs right off and usually is all gone by the time the fruit is ripe anyway. If the ones you use are fuzzy, just rub them with a cloth under running water before cutting them up.

The Wikipedia article on quinces says:
Most varieties of quince are too hard, astringent and sour to eat raw unless 'bletted' (softened by frost and subsequent decay). They are used to make jam, jelly and quince pudding, or they may be peeled, then roasted, baked or stewed. The flesh of the fruit turns red after a long cooking time. The very strong perfume means they can be added in small quantities to apple pies and jam to enhance the flavour.
Discard the quince pulp and use the juice for jelly.

Quinces are grown all around the world. In French, a quince is called un coing (pronounced the same as un coin, with the nasal vowel — the final G is silent). The quince tree has an unusual name: it's un cognassier. An apple tree produces pommes (in France) and is called un pommier. The tree that produces poires is un poirier; abricots grow on un abricotier. And so on. The cognassier fits the pattern, more or less.

A bowlful of quince juice

Quinces make delicious jelly. For somebody who can't eat apples or other red fruit, it's a great alternative. I haven't actually made the jelly yet — that's for later today or even tomorrow.

P.S. The weather yesterday was actually much nicer than the weather forecasters had predicted. The sun came out my mid-morning and it stayed at least partly sunny all day. Callie and I got a good walk in the afternoon. This morning, however, it's raining again.


  1. Decades ago, my mother was given some quinces and made some cotignac, a sort of stiff marmalade or paste. It looked beautiful, like the deep red of a stained glass window - but still very astringent and mouth-drying. One or two small pieces was more than enough.

  2. I love quince jelly too! Don't throw away the pulp though. You can make quince cheese/membrillo with it:


    Lovely with cheese.

    Autolycus, cotignac sounds as if it's the same thing as membrillo -- I hadn't realised there was a French version.

  3. It seems that Cotignac is quince paste. I saw some at Whole Foods yesterday. Quince reminds me of rhubarb since both require sugar to make them palatable but the end result : wonderful!

  4. Thanks to you, Autolycus, I just learned a new French word: cotignac. My grandmother used to make it when I was a young boy, and that was more than seven decades ago, but she called it "pâte de coings" [cotignac, membrillo]. I just loved it. I do love quince jelly also and, believe me, Ken's is outstanding.

    Here is an interesting link for cotignac:

  5. Love the quince juice photo. The light and the angles are really nice. I especially like how the cutting board and the photo are at opposite angles. I would love to have some quince jelly to put on my toast this morning!

  6. Ch., I'll send you some quince jelly as soon as I get a chance. Unless you just want to come over here and get it yourself.

    CHM, you too. I'll save you some for next summer. I've made pâte de coings too and it is good. I made so much that we didn't know what to do with it all. I talked to our Dutch friend Simone today at SuperU, and she said she has been busy making pâte de coings this fall too.

    Veronica, pâtes de fruits, whether quince or other fruits, are a standard item here in France.

  7. Ken,
    How do you achieve those subtle double shadows on your first and second photos. Great shots.

  8. Leon, two words for you: halogen lighting.

  9. actually quince paste - cotignac- sets up easily. but the cooked pulp and syrup through a processor (peel the quinces and core and seed though) and cook down. The fruit can also make a great cmopote as it doesn't get as mushy as apples or pears.
    birzsalmasajt in hungarian, DULCE de membrillo in spanish (membrillo is the quince itself) Doce do marmelo in portuguese. And if you check it, you'll see that the original "Marmalade" refers to a quince confection.

  10. As an Iranian Registered Nurse I want to inform you that we have mixed the water of quince jam with cold water and gave it to the clients that suffer from severe nausia or vomiting after Chemotherapy. It is wonderful. It really works.


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