I’ve been making quince jelly ever since a neighbor mentioned, in passing, that it was a quintessential ingredient in a family heirloom recipe called, of all things, fluden.
How could I resist?
Among the list of fruits thought to have contributed to Adam and Chava’s expulsion from Gan Eden was the quince. For its part in the drama, the quince lost its ability to be eaten raw, having an astringency similar to rubbing alcohol. In mythology, the Golden Apples protected in the garden of Hesperides by a dragon may also have been quinces.
Somewhat more prosaically, quinces are distantly related to apples, and, interestingly enough, roses. Which describes the flavor of the quince jelly rather well. And the beautiful rose color that it turns as well, which my pathetic photography skills fails to capture.
The recipe is easy enough. Take a few quinces, chop them up, boil them for an hour or so. Then, mash up the quinces, drain out the liquid, and boil the liquid with an equal amount of sugar. At some point I’ll write it up as a proper recipe, but I don’t have proportions yet. And, as you’ll read below, is not ready for a published recipe.
Fluden, by the way, is a Jewish recipe, sort of a cross between strudel and Fig Newtons. With nuts.
Another recipe that uses quinces is called membrillo in Spanish, which is a spreadable paste. Again, mash up the cooked quinces, and instead of draining out the liquid, weigh out the whole thing, add an equal weight of sugar, cook slow for an hour, then bake for another hour. Maybe if I get another batch of quinces I’ll give it a go.
For what it’s worth, as far as I can remember I have never seen quince jelly marketed commercially, so if you want to taste it, you’re going to have to get out and buy some.
People often wonder how chefs make perfect food all the time. The short answer is practice, but even so, not everything always comes out as perfectly as it would seem. I have yet to get the consistency of the jelly correct the first time. Quinces have an overabundance of pectin, which is responsible for the jellification of the preserves, or confit. I tend to overcook the liquid until the final product cools to the consistency of hardened rubber cement, which I then have to adjust with water in the (gasp!) microwave. So there you have it, one of my dirty chef secrets.