How to make the ultimate Quince Jam

31

Leggi questo post in: Italiano

A recipe from a classic Italian cookbook gets a modern makeover. Find out how to make quince jam or jelly with less effort and more taste! A great gift!

Living in a place with a different language than the one you grew up with can be funny. I’d heard of the fruit quince before, but never knew what it was. In Italy I heard of the fruit mela cotogna (mela means apple), then finally saw them, made jam from them a couple of years, and only now finally realized that it’s quince.

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Apparently there used to be a lot of quince here in southern Italy but the only time I’ve seen them is from our friend, who has a tree of them. He’d always just fed them to his animals, but ever since we expressed interest in them, he’s given us one or two big bags of them in the fall.

A recipe from a classic Italian cookbook gets a modern makeover. Find out how to make quince jam or jelly with less effort and more taste! A great gift!

The quince is pretty ugly and very hard. You can’t eat it raw like you do with a normal apple. My husband (and my people his age in our area) have horrible memories of a very sugary hard gelatin made with it, the cotognata. But quince jam is a whole different story.

il talismano della felicità

So enter stage right a classic cookbook of Italian cooking, Il Talismano della felicità*.

il talismano della felicità

This copy had been my husband’s grandmother’s and now is his mother’s.

il talismano della felicità

I have to say that it’s pretty cool using a book published such a long time ago (this copy is from 1937) which is a part of my husband’s family’s history.

ricetta confettura mela cotogna

Except the recipe for quince jam is a bit vague and too sweet. It took me three years to perfect my recipe.

how to make the ultimate quince jam

I started off with this large shopping bag full of quince. They’re pretty awful-looking, more than usual, because they’re not sprayed so they have little critters in them.

How to make the ultimate quince jam

As you can see, they are covered in brown fuzz.

How to make the ultimate quince jam

But it comes right off in water with a vegetable scrubber. (We use this Japanese style vegetable brush*.)

A recipe from a classic Italian cookbook gets a modern makeover. Find out how to make quince jam or jelly with less effort and more taste! A great gift!

Once they’re washed off, put them in a big pot and cover them with water (the ones in this photo really needed more water) and bring it to a boil. As they start cooking, they give off a wonderful and sweet scent.

How to make the ultimate quince jam

Cook them until they get soft. It’s better not to cook them so much that they break apart, as the one in the foreground of this photo, but it’s not the end of the world.

How to make the ultimate quince jam

Take them out of the water with a slotted spoon and put them in a colander to let them cool off a bit. If you have asbestos hands, as my mother-in-law says, you can move right along without letting them cool, but I can’t handle the heat they retain.

How to make the ultimate quince jam

And start peeling them with a sharp knife. This is easier if they’re more intact. If they’ve broken apart it’s harder to remove the pulp stuck to the peel. But if a bit of peel stays on, it’s not biggie and just adds a bit more texture to the jam.

aCome fare la confettura di mele cotogne

This is the part that I hate. Remember all those little holes on the outside of the quince? Well, this is what those bugs do on the inside. This particular quince is in pretty good shape compare to some of the other ones we had. Sometimes I’d find cooked worms inside. Ick!

Come fare la confettura di mele cotogne

If your quince are like this too, gather up your courage (and patience) and cut away those yucky parts.

Come fare la confettura di mele cotogne

The recipe says to pass the quince through a food mill.

Come fare la confettura di mele cotogne

But I wouldn’t advise you do that. As this pulp is not at all liquidy, it takes a long time and a lot of energy to pass it through like this.

Come fare la confettura di mele cotogne

Luckily there’s a more modern way which is easy and quick. (As much as I like using old-fashioned methods, even I have my limits. The same goes for my garlic salt.) Take out a scale which will measure up to 10 kg (or 20 pounds), more or less.

Come fare la confettura di mele cotogne

Weigh a big empty pot.

Come fare la confettura di mele cotogne

Fill it with your pieces of cleaned quince.

Come fare la confettura di mele cotogne

And here’s the modern solution: the immersion blender or hand blender. Blending the pulp gives you the same end result as passing it through the mill, but in just a few minutes.

Come fare la confettura di mele cotogne

Weigh the pot full of blended fruit. Subtract the weight of the empty pot from this second full weight, and you’ll have the weight of the fruit pulp. In my case the empty pot weighed 1560 grams and the full one 4820 grams, so I had 3260 grams (over 7 pounds) of pulp.

Start sterilizing your jars. I really like doing this in the oven as I learned from Rose di Burro (where I got the recipe of orange lemon marmalade which is absolutely fantastic!) You put the washed jars inside a cold oven, turn it on to 160°C (320°F) and leave them in there for 30 minutes. You fill them up while they’re still hot. The caps, on the other hand, get boiled for five minutes.

Come fare la confettura di mele cotogne

The recipe says to add the same weight in sugar as the weight of quince pulp, but I don’t like jams that are too sweet. I found the best ratio to be 2/3 of the pulp’s weight in sugar. So in my case I added 2100 grams (about 4.5 pounds) of sugar. You will also need lemon juice, one tablespoon for every 400 grams (14 ounces) of pulp. It’s better if you prepare it now, before turning on the stove.

I don’t have pictures of this part because I couldn’t leave the pot alone as it cooked. You need to stir the pulp and sugar constantly at medium heat. At first it will be very hard, but after a little it gets more manageable. You also have to be careful of the bubbles and to not let it stick to the bottom of the pot. Differently from other types of jam and marmalade, it never gets liquidy, but remains at the consistency of a cream.

A recipe from a classic Italian cookbook gets a modern makeover. Find out how to make quince jam or jelly with less effort and more taste! A great gift!

After about 2o minutes of cooking, turn off the heat, add the lemon juice, stir it in well and put inside the sterilized jars. Put the caps on tight and turn them upside down. Once they’ve cooled you can turn them back around and they should have become vacuum-sealed. If not (the center of the cap pops back up when pushed), it’s better to keep the jar in the fridge. (My big bag of quince made about 13 different-sized jars.)

A recipe from a classic Italian cookbook gets a modern makeover. Find out how to make quince jam or jelly with less effort and more taste! A great gift!

The consistency is easily spread but not liquid. The flavor is sweet with a touch of tartness. The smell and taste are just amazing.

A recipe from a classic Italian cookbook gets a modern makeover. Find out how to make quince jam or jelly with less effort and more taste! A great gift!

It’s delicious on a slice of bread, perfect for breakfast or a snack. It’s also a great gift idea (and in my experience always much appreciated)… but perhaps it’s even better if you keep it all for yourself!

Is your home full of extra chocolate eggs and bunnies? Making this chocolate banana bread recipe is a perfect way to use up leftover Easter chocolate! Check it out on www.cucicucicoo.com

If you liked learning how to make quince jam with this tutorial, make sure you check out my recipe for Chocolate Banana Bread!

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And don’t forget to Pin this post!

A recipe from a classic Italian cookbook gets a modern makeover. Find out how to make quince jam or jelly with less effort and more taste! A great gift!

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31 COMMENTS

  1. Io adoro la marmellata di mele cotogne, anche per me è un ricordo dell’infanzia. Però non ho nessuno che me le dia, quindi quando la trovo la compro già fatta…

    • devi andare dai contadini che hanno coltivazioni di mele e pere !! qui in Veneto ce le hanno tutti e alcuni le vendono pure , tra l altro sono piante che oltre che essere fantastiche per i loro frutti fanno dei fiori meravigliosi !! infatti i contadini li usano per aiutare le impollinazioni delle piante e per fare anche siepe

      • Invece qui, nelle zone intorno a Napoli, sono poche le mele cotogne. Da quello che mi dicono, prima ce n’erano tanti alberi, ma non interessavano molto evidentemente e andavano sparendo sempre di più.

  2. Hace unos 44 años fui a vivir a una casa que tenia en el jardín 3 arboles frutales :la higuera y el manzano los identificamos enseguida .El tercero era feo y tenia ese fruto duro.Mis padres lo conservaron.Siempre comparamos membrillo y nunca lo asociamos al árbol feo.
    Indudablemente el habitante anterior era Italiano.

    • Addirittura, le mele cotogne in vendita?! Infatti, ora è stagione, ma almeno qui nel sud è molto difficile trovarle. Allora devi provare questa confettura, e forse avrai qualche suggerimento per evitare di mettere lo zucchero! 🙂

    • Ciao Rob!
      Devo dire il vero, non sono sicurissima quanto tempo si conserva perché la nostra finisce sempre piuttosto presto, anche perché diamo diversi barattoli ad amici e famiglia perché piace a TUTTI! Se i barattoli si mettono sottovuoto seguendo le istruzioni sopra (sterilizzare i baratto e tappi prima, metterci dentro la confettura caldissima, chiudere e mettere sottosopra fino a quando si raffredda) — e a volte non succede, non so perché, forse perché quasi mai compro i tappi nuovi– si possono tenere fuori dal frigo. Ma se non vanno sottovuoto è un po’ un azzardo lasciarli fuori dal frigo. Fammi sapere se la fai! 🙂 Lisa

  3. La mela cotogna è forse la più antica varietà di mele esistente. Difficile da trovare, ha un profumo e un sapore incredibile a discapito dell’aspetto “ammaccato” come si vede benissimo nelle tue ottime foto! Io adoro usare la marmellata di mele cotogne per le ricette dolci integrali. È buonissima!

  4. La stiamo facendo proprio ora quella confettura e guarda caso proprio come l hai descritta te solo che invece di mettere il zucchero dentro la pentola abbiamo preparato una gelatina a parte sempre fatta di zucchero !! Qui da me non è difficile trovare ne le pere ne le mele cotogne , basta solo conoscere i contadini che hanno le coltivazioni di pere e mele , piu o meno tutti le hanno , le tengono per facilitare l impollinamento in primavera

  5. Hi Lisa, very nice portrayed recipe – step by step with a lot of photos. I like your family coockbook – have also some older books from Rettigova and Sandtnerova. This year I got some quinces and I’m doing now some jellys, jams, purees and cheeses and looking on internet for some recipes and ideas. Found also an old not for digest purpose – put quince into wardrobe, It gives to the clothes very nice smell.
    Because of the worms I clean the fruit and slice it in smaller parts before coocking. After cooking I press them thru a sieve – quite lot of hard work (I broked already my spatula), but it’s part of the process 🙂 and the energy you invest will maybe come into the product.
    What I’m wondering about is the colour of your jam. After one hour cooking my quinces gets the colour like yours have – they are pale like skin. Then they turn into darker pink when let them first drip off thru piece of cloth and then pressing thru a sieve. And as they further coock or sugar is given to them, they turn darker and darker – more orange and reddish, until ligt brown.
    By the way, what do you do with the water wehre quinces were coocked in?

    • Hi Karel,
      Mmmm! Sounds like you’re making lots of wonderful things with your quince! You’re right, it is a lot of work to make this jam, but definitely worth it in the end! Yes, in the end the quince puree cooked with sugar is a tan color, a light brown. I just used my cooking water to water my plants. I figured that the nutrients that leached out of the fruit would be good for my plants! What did you do with it?

      • Huh after 14 days I finaly processed all the qince – about 30 kg, which could be 66 pounds – uff 🙂
        Well, the different use of coocking water is caused by different approach to the quince – I do coock them diced. So I use the water further for all the products because there is in it more dissolved nutrients / substances (pektin, flavour nad juice) then in yours, as you coock them in whole. Frankly, it takes more time to vapourise all the water and get e.g. some jelly that sets, but I like it this way.
        I thought about the darker colour of my products and the reason could be, that I use light brown cone sugar instead of white beet sugar. Although I used beet sugar for yellow and red greengages and they turned darker after pouring it in. Thinking now about using muscovado next year. Or even molasses – if I find some sugar beet piled in the late autumn.

        • Yes, Karel, using brown sugar definitely makes for a darker jam. I’ve done that with orange marmalade before, and it’s come out darker than the ones I’ve made with refined white sugar.

  6. io la faccio ogni anno visto ho trovato degli amici che mi regala la frutta, al contrario io li svuoto prima di sbollentarli li settaccio e metto rispetto alla ricetta originale 700grammi di zucchero per ogni chilogrammo di polpa e vado fino a riporla nei vasetti, mi piace tanto sul pane e fare anche delle crostate per me a parte che mi riporta alla mia infanzia e poi a me piace tanto……….:):):)

  7. Bè anche se si fanno a mille pezzi tanto devono essere setacciati, la mia mamma mi ha insegnato che nn si sbucciano si levano soltanto i torsoli e togliere le impurità, metterli in pentola fino a coprirli con l’acqua sbollentarli e setacciarli (l’ho fatta proprio adesso ), quest’anno ne ho fatto ben 8 kg di polpa, ho ancora un bel pò di frutta e che la prossima volta farò la gelatina che è altrettanto buona, mi ricordo con nostalgia che da piccola andavo con mia madre a prendere questa frutta che avevamo nel piccolo vigneto di famiglia.

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