Monday, 12 October 2009
Lovely Quince Tree: A Valediction
I've written about the perilous state of our local Japonica Quince previously. I had been clinging to the hope that it might survive but Adam and I are increasingly pessimistic. It still looks green and healthy, just rather, ummm, broken. I fear over zealous local authority bureaucracy is it's greatest threat at the moment as it's lying on the floor in an untidy fashion and the official grass cutter men can't get underneath it anymore. My widow's weeds are on order.
The tree has a special place in our family history of foraging as Willow spotted it about a year ago when she was 4. Adam and I had seen it but dismissed it as a crab apple due to it's tiny fruit, it was Willow who frogmarched us over and made us begin our Google odyssey to eventual identification (and she hasn't let us forget it). The fruit tastes and cooks exactly like the full sized quince but has the added inconvenience of it's size (roughly golfball) which makes peeling time consuming and fiddly.
I can freely admit we're in a slight panic at the prospect of no more free quinces so we have methodically stripped as much fruit as we can handle and I've been trying to keep a pile of slowing bletting quince under control. At least the kitchen smells good. So far I've made 2 batches of membrillo, 2 of quince jelly, 3 jars bottled quince, 2 batches crystalised quince and Adam has embarked on quince cider (if it's any good I'll blog the recipe).
In my previous Membrillo post I was pondering the cause of it's dark orange colour, I'm now reasonably confident my theory about small bits of skin passing through the moulis holds water. Take a look at the jewel bright colour of the bottled quince which are peeled prior to processing. I'm very tempted to make a 3rd batch of membrillo using peeled quince to see if I can get the colour right but that feels excessive even to me and the peeling feels like a faff too far.
Here's the recipe I use for bottling quince, don't be alarmed by the vinegar, you can't taste it in the final product, it just gives an almost alcoholic depth to the flavour. This is excellent warm over good vanilla ice cream.
2.5kg quince (peeled weight)
190 ml white wine or cider vinegar
Put the sugar and vinegar into a pan and heat til the sugar has dissolves. Add the quince, cover and simmer until the fruit turns bright red, this will probably take 2 or 3 hours and doesn't work in a slow cooker by the way.
It can be eaten at this stage and will keep in the fridge for some time. To give it a longer shelf life it can be bottled. I use 1l mason jars. Pack the quince into sterilised jars, bring the syrup in the pan to the boil and pour over leaving about an inch head room at the top of the jar. Screw the lids on and loosen a quarter turn. Put into the oven at gm 2 for an hour. Take out of the oven one at a time and tighten the lid. Leave to cool for 24hrs then test the seal (in my jars this means the lid becomes convex and won't flex when pushed)
Makes 2 1l jars.
Anyway, *sniff* Farewell lovely Quince tree (dabs eyes with black edged hanky), I dread the day my blue cheese will go unadorned. (draws black veil over face)