Looking at a raw quince you would never guess that this ugly duckling fruit could turn into such an exquisite jelly.
A raw quince is a lumpy, yellow fruit that looks something like a misshapen pear with flesh like a super hard apple. Raw quinces are inedible, but cooked they yield a delicately aromatic juice with a unique rosy color.
Quinces are naturally high in pectin, so you won't need to add pectin in order to get a good jell from the juice. Note that the wonderful blush color of the jelly won't develop until the final stages of cooking.
- 3 1/2 pounds quinces (about 4 large fruits)
- 7 cups water
- 3 1/2 cups sugar (granulated)
- Wash the quinces and cut off the stem ends. Leave the peels on. Core the fruit by chopping around the cores. Compost or discard the stems and cores. Chop the fruit into large chunks, 6-8 pieces per quince.
- Place the quince in a large pot. Pour in the water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the fruit is mushy-soft, about 1 hour.
- Mash the cooked quince with a potato masher. If the mashed fruit is on the dry side, add a little more water. You want a consistency like a soupy applesauce.
- Place a colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth, or a very finely meshed strainer, over a large bowl or pot. Ladle the runny quince mash into the strainer or cheesecloth-lined colander. Leave it for 2 hours. Save the mash to make quince paste.
- You should end up with at least 4 cups of juice. If you aren't getting much juice, stir a little more water into the mash in the cheesecloth-lined colander or the strainer (do not add the water directly to the strained juice or it will be too diluted).
- Sterilize the canning jars in boiling water.
- While the jars are sterilizing, measure the juice. Pour the quince juice into a large pot. Add 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar per cup of juice.
- Bring to a boil over high heat. Stir constantly at first until the sugar is completely dissolved. Stir occasionally after that until the jell point is reached.
- Ladle into sterilized half pint canning jars, leaving 1/2-inch head space. Screw on canning lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Remove the jars of quince jelly from the boiling water bath and allow them to cool completely.
If you're new to jelly making, remember that the jelly will still be completely liquid when the jars come out of the boiling water bath. The jelly will jell as it cools.