October 30, 2009: They’ve been weighing down one branch of the quince tree for months. Four fat quinces starting off like little green pears, then swelling into bumps and gnarls and slowly turning bright yellow. For the last two week I’ve been impatient to pick them and made myself wait until the threat of an overnight frost became real. Three of them weighed in at 500g each, the fourth a ‘mere’ 270g. I’m exceptionally proud of them – the tree is only two years old and the branch that the four quinces hung from was indeed the tree’s only branch in spring when the fruits were forming.
Zest and juice of one unwaxed lemon
Destalk the quinces and chop roughly. No need to peel or de-core. Place in a large pan with the lemon zest and juice and add 1.8l water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 1½ to 2 hours, occasionally pressing down on the quince mixture with a potato masher. Pour the mixture through a jelly bag and leave to drip overnight.
Next day, pre-heat the oven to 120 degrees, wash out some jars in very hot soapy water, rinse and dry them off in the oven – this will sterilise them. Discard the quince pulp and measure the slightly thickened, pinkish liquid. For every 600ml of liquid you need 450g sugar. Pour the liquid in a large pan and add the sugar. Bring slowly to the boil, then boil hard until the setting point is reached – start testing after about five minutes.