Thursday, 14 October 2010

Jelly belly

The end. After a week of quince with everything, the last few fruits now find their way into this jelly, to be slathered thickly onto toasted crumpets in the cold winter months.

Quince jelly is truly a thing of beauty. If you're lucky enough to make a perfect batch it will have a delicate, quivering consistency and a complex fruitiness. Held up to the light, it glows a deep, ruby red. It's a pity to hide it in the fridge really.

My mum's quince jelly

Makes 4 x 4lb jars of jelly

5lb quince
1kg granulated sugar
juice of 2 lemons plus an extra squeeze of lemon
8 pints of water

1) Peel the quinces and chop into small pieces, keeping the pieces in a large bowl of water which has had a squeeze of lemon added.

2) Drain the quince and place in a very large stainless steel pan with the water and lemon juice, and boil until the liquid has reduced to 6 pints and the fruit is soft and falling apart.  You can help it along with a potato masher if needed.  Drain through a double-layered muslin bag or sterilised (hot washed) pillow case.  The best way to do this is to tie the bag at the top and leave it to drain overnight.  If you're in a hurry, you can just squeeze the bag.  The jelly won't be as crystal clear but it's a time saver!

3) Now reduce this liquid to about 4 pints, then add the sugar and boil rapidly until the jam reaches setting point, about 15-20 minutes.  To check whether your jelly is at setting point, place a saucer in the fridge then drop a little jam onto the plate and leave it for 30 seconds.  Now drag your finger through the jam, and if it leaves a crinkly trail, you're ready.

4) Pour the jam into four hot 1lb sterilised jam jars and then quickly screw the lids on to create a seal.  If you prefer, you can cover with waxed discs and fabric or clingfilm tied with ribbon.  Store somewhere cool and dry.

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