Monday, October 4, 2010

Quince Adventures Continue

Today is one of those drippy gray days that begs for a good book and something warm to sip on.  However today I found that the last of the quince fruit was calling my name begging to be processed.  Oh the sacrifices we make for food.

Now I don't mind this sacrifice much except that I ended up with a really nice raw spot on my finger after I peeled back the skin off a blister I didn't realize I  had gotten from cutting up the first crockpot full of quince.  I told you it took some doing to cut them up and this proves it.  Makes me wanna wear gloves next year.  Enough whining.  Where was I?

So the sauce turned out yummy.  I found that a crammed full crock pot needs at least 3 cups of sugar to get it to a good sweetness.  This sauce is so yummy and rich with just the right tartness that I could eat it every day and never get tired of it.  We don't like sugary sweet stuff in our house much and I just adore the juxtaposition of flavors so this sauce is my favorite hands down.  Sweet and tart, smooth, yet a bit of texture and the color is gorgeous.  I think it would be amazing made into a quick pan chutney type sauce with bits of sauteed onion, mustard seed, raisins, some spice, a splash of vinegar, some brown sugar and fresh lemon zest...oh and a dash of fresh ground black pepper.  (It must be the cooler cloudy weather today...I am so inspired to cook!)

I discovered that the longer you cook the fruit the rosier they become in color.  The bowl on the right was cooked for about 45 minutes on the stove.  The bowl on the left is the crock pot version which was simmered for a few hours.

(This looks a bit more orange than it really is.)
 The first crock pot full made 10 pints plus 5 cups of beautiful rosy juice that I can make into jelly or glaze or maybe gelato.  It has such a wonderfully rich yet refreshing flavor I think it would make delightful gelato.  (I promise I'll post what happens if I do.)

Food mill and a glass of Quince juice (watered down a bit)
Getting the cooked fruit to sauce is easy using one of the hand crank type food mills.  My German sensibilities make me a real stickler for getting as much as possible without waste so I take my time and have very little that doesn't end up in the sauce.  The peels actually grind right up being much more tender than apple peel.  Because this fruit does not cook down like apples do I do not use the core of the fruit...I may have to figure out how to remedy this loss...maybe for jelly or something where the pectin from around the seeds can be taken advantage of.  I'm sure there has got to be a lot of pectin in the seed cavity of the core too as those little seeds are loaded with it.  Another idea for another year I suppose.

As I'm cutting beautiful fruit with their pristine light yellow exteriors and sliced it open and found these brown spots (oh no!!!) Having no idea what makes these brown spots I decided to just toss the affected fruit unless the spots were easy to cut out.  I just hate when this happens.  Its so disappointing.

Gotta find out what this is all about.
I guess part of my disappointment is I always have secretly wanted this tree to somehow magically remain relatively pest and disease free.  Looks like that is not going to happen without a little help from the gardener (me) but it still is pretty care free so I'm happy.  Back to the sauce.
All boxed up ready to freeze

Freezing is my preferred method of storing this sauce and I have found it a good idea to mark the top and sides of the containers and pay attention that the labels are facing out so I can see them easily when needed.

Here's a little historical note I found while looking for why the fruit turns rosy when cooked.  (thanks to Wikipedia for the factoid)
"Marmalade" originally meant a quince jam, which originates from the Portuguese word for the fruit.  Quince is native to from the Middle East, Ukraine, southern Europe to China.

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