Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Candied Quince, Mama's way, As Remembered

I stopped last week at one of my favorite fruit stands north of Seattle and I lucked out. I found quince, Italian eggplant, pomegranates and tender Lebanese cucumbers……Time to do some preserving. I pickled the cucumbers four different ways, plain, with dill the way Brian likes it, hot with Serrano chilies whole and sliced. The eggplant, I preserved in olive oil with two kinds of stuffing. One is a mixture of crushed garlic, crushed pine nuts and pomegranate seeds. Another, mixture of crushed garlic, crushed walnuts, thinly diced red pepper and Serrano chilies for the other. Both are very tasty but the first is my favorite and I really can’t make a just one or the other. I had leftover, stuffing so I sliced zucchini from my garden, roasted them and layered them with the stuffing and topped it with olive oil. Give it a few weeks and I have a tasty appetizer or a quick meal on hand, and of course you have to eat it with pita bread making sure to sop the oil…… Recipes to follow at some time…..
Now, going back to quince…... A quince is a fruit resembling a pear that was first cultivated in the Middle East. In fact, the proverbial apple offered to Adam by Eve may actually be more accurately translated as a quince. It is such a beautiful fragrant fruit that a lot of people in this country do not know what to do with. My Mom always made candied quince and jam. In Spain they take it a little further and bake the jam or paste to make it dense then eat it with Manchego cheese, it’s called Membrillo. In my research last year I stumbled on a recipe to make jelly from the peel, I liked the idea of not wasting any part of the fruit. But on the other hand I did not find any recipe that resembled what my mom used to make, so I had to come up with one, I relied on my memory and my instinct and it was a success. The jelly, which I had never made before, using neither quince, or any kind of fruit was a flop, I overcooked until it turned into a thick glob that was hard to spread…..Ah, live and learn….
Coming back to the here now…..I did not write the recipe down last year, or maybe I did and it is buried somewhere on a pad around the house……So, I had to come up again with a recipe ……
The following method is one that my mama used to preserve different kinds if fruit like figs, quince, citrus rind, chestnut and even eggplant which she stuffed with walnuts and flavored with cloves pierced into the fruit……Ummmm……May be that should be my next attempt, after I discuss with Mom, she may not have a recipe since she’s more of an instinctive talented cook. This method takes a long time to finish but it is worth having a product that retains its shape and a nice crunch. You can skip the cooling and simmering steps and cook it through but you have to stay by its side stirring occasionally and may risk breaking the pieces that may be soft and not as crunchy.
Wash your fruit and make sure to remove any fuzz on the skin. To make the process of peeling easier cut the fruit into 10 pieces before you peel. Put your slices in water to slow the oxidizing process. Keep the peel if you want to make the jelly.

14 cups Quince, peeled cored and cut into 10 slices
16 cups water
7 cups sugar
In a non reactive pan, like thick bottom stainless steel, cook quince 7 minutes after its starts boiling. Strain fruit through a colander. Measure 14 cups of water and put back in the pan with sugar, reserve the remaining liquid for quince jelly. Simmer sugar syrup on medium heat for about 15 minutes, return fruit to pan and simmer for about 10.Turn the heat off and let it cool down. Turn heat on and bring to a simmer for 15 more minutes. Turn heat off and cool down again then bring to a simmer for about 15 minutes stirring gently to make sure that it does not stick, if you notice a film is forming on the bottom of the pan reduce heat and keep an eye on it stirring gently. The quince will be ready when the syrup is thick and covers the spoon and slices.
When you put pan again on the stove for the last time, prepare your jars. You will 4 to 5 need wide mouthed 500ml 3 piece jars i.e. rings and lids. Wash your jars with warm soap and water. Sterilize the jars and ring top in a pan for 15 minutes after boiling. Remove jars and lids from water and place over a dry towel. Place lids in boiling water and keep until jars are filled and ready to seal. Ladle warm jam into jars using a canning funnel, or not, leaving about ½” space from top. If you have less full jar do not preserve keep in the fridge and use in the next few weeks. Clean around jar rims using a paper towel. Remove lids from boiling water, use a canning magnet if you have it or sterilized tongs, and be careful not to burn yourself. Place lids on top of jars and screw rings in. Pour out hot water from pan; place jars in pan and top with cold water about 1” over. Place pot on high heat and sterilize jars for 15 minutes after water starts boiling. Turn heat off and leave jars in pans 5 more minutes. Carefully remove jars from pan and turn them upside down on a clean towel. Using a mitten, press lids down into towel making sure jars are sealed well. I saw my Mom do it this way, it’s a way to make sure that your jars are sealed well and do not leak. Do not disturb for about 8 hours.
When you are ready to serve remove quince from syrup and drain then dredge in coarse granulated sugar paired with walnuts……Or, serve it as is or with ice cream or sandwiched in a scone… Reserve syrup and spread it on toast………
Sahtain….Or good health…

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