What’s “mele cotogne”? In English, I just found out, they are known as quince. Last week my aunt Marcella invited me to her farm to collect quince which this year have been really abundant. The branches of the trees were bent with so many apples!
I was really keen on collecting them to make jam as quince jam is incredibly delicious and it is worth all the work needed to make it.
As these apples were organic many had bruises and looked anything but perfect, but hey, who wants perfect looking fruit anyway? In supermarkets fruit which is treated with many pesticides looks amazing, it’s big and of an inviting colour and then tastes of nothing.
Quince is a funny apple: it is inedible if raw and all you can do with it is make jam or jelly; “la cotognata” is a delicious sweet treat popular all over Italy especially in the south. Grandmas and mammas are very busy at jam making at this time of year!
So off we started picking, the children seemed quite keen!
And with so many apples to pick! I love being in the countryside!
Box after box…
And now let the work commence!
For this jam you will need:
- 1 kg quince
- 600 g sugar (you can add more if you prefer it sweeter)
- 1 lemon
- 2 glasses of water
First you need to wash the apples well, then without peeling them chop them into cubes and remove the core and seeds
Place them in a large saucepan, add two glasses of water and cook them over a medium heat until the fruit is softened and mushy. This will take about 30 minutes or longer.
If you prefer a smoother consistency you can now sieve the apples; I didn’t as I like the texture of the fruit in jams.
Add the sugar and the lemon juice and continue cooking at a low heat for another hour stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
When the jam looks homogeneous and soft pour it straight away into clean jars which you will promptly seal with their top and put them upside down so that the vacuum will form and the jam will preserve for a long time. Let the jars cool down.
And wasn’t this worth all the effort? This jam is delicious at any time of the day, so delicious on fresh bread!
Which brings me to how I ended up with 10lbs (4.5kg) of quince. Ben and I were at the farmer’s market on the weekend when we saw boxes of the unsightly-looking fruit. We’d never bought quince before. In fact, the only reason we even paused was that when we were in France last May, we stayed at Le Manoir de la Maison Blanche in Amboise, where they served delicious homemade jams with our breakfast baguette. One of the jams, of course, was quince.
Memories of France, combined with my new commitment to local eating (and cooking!) somehow convinced me that buying mountains of quince was a good idea. We would make jam. It would be fun, and the results would be delicious. I could be one of those (increasingly few) people who brought a jar of homemade jam when dropping in for a visit. Nevermind that the only thing I knew about jam-making was based on a novel called Blue Jelly (subtitled “Love Lost and the Lessons of Canning”). But, I thought, how hard can it be? My grandpa used to pickle eggs. Surely jam was easier.
I don’t know about eggs, but jam was easy. And we haven’t died of botulism. Yet. Here’s how we did it:
– See more at: http://heavypetal.ca/archives/2008/01/making-quince-jam/#sthash.LaUf1fGR.dpuf