Quince Jam - an Old Armenian Favorite
A Little Bit About the Quince
Quince look like large, lumpy, hard apples. They have an amazingly sweet, pineapple-like fragrance. The skin is covered with a thick fuzz which you have to rub/wash off before using. You can't eat them raw as they're really "dry" and not good at all to eat. But when they're cooked, it's a totally different story. The flesh, that resembles an apple (with the little gritty bumps of a pear) is a pale butter color, but when cooked turns to a peachy pink color. You can't find quince everywhere. If you're lucky enough to have an Armenian market near you...or a middle eastern market, chances are you'll be able to find quince in the produce section in late fall/early winter.
Ingredients and Preparation
Approximately 4 pounds of quince fruit
5 cups of sugar
8 cups water
1 good size cinnamon stick and about 10 whole cloves
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Wash and sterilize your 8 oz canning jars by putting them in the dishwasher or boiling them. Get the lids and rings ready as well.
Wash and rub the fuzz off of 4 pounds of quince. Peel and core them like you would an apple. Fill a large pan of water to keep the quince from browning. Using your food processor, put on your shredding blade and shred or grate the quince. There will be no juice when you do this (unlike an apple). The fruit is dense and dry. Immediately put the grated quince in water until you've processed all the fruit.
Cooking your Quince
Once all the fruit has been processed, drain the quince in a collander and transfer to a large saucepan, add sugar and 8 cups of water, whole cloves and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking. Turn the flame to low and you'll want to just cook this down about 45 minutes to one hour, until excess liquid cooks off and jam thickens.
After the jam has thickened, remove the cloves and cinnamon and discard. Squeeze the juice of a 1/2 a lemon into the jam and stir and allow to rest about a half an hour. The quince has a lot of pectin in it and doesn't need any Sure-Jell or liquid pectin to thicken.