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Title: Q - Quinces
Tags: Memories
Blog Entry: Q – Quince Whenever I think of the Q letter it reminds me of the one and only Quince tree that was growing quite near the home garden. Quince is a fall fruit that grows in a manner quite like apples and pears. Back when I was a youngster every home garden had one growing, much the same as the ‘Fig’ tree. But alas their popularity has faded away over the years.   I know only of one local family that still has a tree growing today … I was pleasantly surprised on my last trip to the Supermarket to see them back on the shelf again.   The ripest, nicest quince will have a golden tone and smooth skin. When not ripe the fruit has a furry down on it. Most varieties are too hard and tart to be eaten raw, however when cooked they are delicious. The fruit can be made into a Jam or Jelly, Stewed and served with Custard and Cream or made into a pie or other delicious recipes. Quinces are appreciated for their intense aroma and flavour. The first clue that quince hides something special is its aroma. If you leave a quince on a sunny windowsill it will slowly release a delicate fragrance of vanilla, citrus and apple into your kitchen. If you peel a quince and cut it up, then cook it, those scents blossom into a wonderful perfume and the fruit itself magically turns from a yellow white to a deep rosy pink. When you stew quince in sugar and a little water or wine it becomes extremely delicious. The syrup from the cooked quince is delicious drizzled over Yoghurt or Icecream. One of the wonderful childhood memories that stand out in my mind is of the Quince when the fruit is still very young and green and just forming a shape.   This shape looked very much like the bowl of the pipes that all the men of that era would use to smoke their tobacco with.   With my late brother who was 14 months older than I, we   would pick a young quince off the tree, cut off the top of the fruit, scoop out the inside leaving a shell then delicately cut a small round hole in the lower side. When we were satisfied with our work we then selected a stem of the Bamboo plant or a strong piece of straw from the Hay stack and then gently inserted it into the hole in the quince. We would then walk around or sit on the Miners Couch under the Verandah making out that we were smoking like the men!!.    At other times we would use this pipe to blow bubbles using a mixture made from soap in a small bowl of water (there was no liquid detergent in those days). It was simple things like this that gave us much pleasure. The blossom on the Quince tree is beautiful. The petals are a reasonable size and can be in shades of the palest pink to a deep pink depending on the age of the blossom. Quince Jelly Yields 2 litre Ingredients 3 Kg of ripe quinces Castor sugar 3 Large lemons 3 litres of water (or enough to cover the quinces) Directions Wash the quinces and rub the skin well, then quarter them roughly. Put the cut up quince into a preserving pan with the water and simmer long and slowly until they become soft. It can take over an hour to cook and reduce the liquid. Strain through a Jelly bag overnight ( by jelly bag either use muslin cloth or a clean tea towel or a very fine sieve – whatever you have at your disposal that fits within that criteria will be fine). Do not force the juice as it will make it cloudy. Measure the juice into the preserving pan and for each 600 mls of juice add 375 grms castor sugar. Bring juice to simmering point, add the sugar and the strained Lemon Juice. Dissolve the sugar over a very low heat. Boil fast then begin testing for a set after 10 minutes. When soft set is reached , pour into small sterilised hot jars and seal.   This jelly stiffens during storage and looks like a Ruby Jewel in the jar.   It is delicious served with Lamb or baked Pork, or simply as Jelly with toast and butter for Breakfast,