Tuesday 30 October 2007


At the weekend while we were taking medlars in before the wind blew them all to kingdom come the kind neighbours whose chaenomeles I plundered a few weeks ago stuck their heads over the boundary and offered me some of the quinces from their side of the fence. Slightly squirming with embarrassment I gladly accepted - I couldn't reach any more from my side but I could see the burgeoning crop and it was tantalising. In return we gave them a few medlars and a jar of last year's jelly. I hope it was o.k., it looked a little cloudy after a year in store.


Anyway, this meant as well as bowl of medlars to process I also have a bag of quince. How fortunate then that I found a Dutch recipe on the web for a Medlar and Japanese Quince Jam.

I've modified it a bit, there is no need to add extra pectin to these fruit, they set perfectly well without it and I slightly increased the proportion of Japanese quince to Medlar.

To make about four jars of jam take a kilo of medlars and half a kilo of Japanese quince. The medlar fruit should be as ripe as possible but not mouldy or smelly rotten and the quinces as golden and fragrant as the weather will allow.

Wash the fruit well and chop it up, cores and all removing any bruised parts. The seeds fall out of the quinces quite easily so take those out but don't worry about the medlars.

Place the prepared fruit in your large pan and barely cover with water. Bring to a gently simmer and let it all cook until the fruit is completely mushy and disintegrated. Mash it a bit with a potato masher to make sure.

If you have a food mill put the fruit through it to remove the skins, seeds and hard bits. My food mill is in France so I had to rub the pulp through a nylon sieve to get all the lovely fruit and its juices away from the rubbish. You should be left with just over 2 pints of thick perfumed pureed medlars and quince.

Put the puree back in the clean pan and add a pound of sugar to each pint of puree (that's about 800g to the litre). Stir it over a gentle heat until the sugar is completely dissolved then skim off the scum that rises and boil hard for 5 minutes. Check for a set by putting a little on a cold plate, letting it cool and seeing if wrinkles form as you push it. It should reach this setting point quickly and easily so don't overboil it.

Pot up into clean sterilised jars and seal immediately.

We were really surprised when first tasting it just how closely the flavour resembled apples. Is there a market for faux apple jam? Of course not, but for something as exotic as Quince and Medlar jam there are bound to be takers.

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