Quince are an under appreciated fruit. Cooks know them as the last fruit to be harvested in the Fall, and the real indication that winter in Seattle is on its way. My grandmother use to include them in other jams and jellies because of their high pectin content. But they are also make lovely jam in their own right, with a flavor that is reminiscent of apples but more floral and very distinctive. Their taste pair well with vanilla (as in this recipe) but also with bay leaf. Try this jam on toast for breakfast or with hard, strong flavored cheeses.
Recipe makes about 3 pints.
2 Large quince, about 2#
2.5 cups water
1.75lb organic sugar
1 vanilla bean
2 cups quince juice
Note the peel, core and seeds of quince, as well as the pith of lemon are very high in pectin. Using this juice for the liquid in jam making will help give the finished jam a firm set.
Zest then juice the lemons, saving the zest and 1 of the squeezed halves.
Peel and core the quince, saving both the peel and the core. Cut the flesh of the quince into 1/2 inch dice and toss with the lemon juice. Cover closely with plastic wrap and set aside.
Put the peel and core of the quince and the half squeezed lemon in a pan with 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for 1 hour.
Strain the quince juice through a fine chinois lined with cheesecloth. Press firmly to extract all the juice.
Put the quince flesh, lemon juice, zest, and sugar into a heavy pot. Split and scrape the vanilla bean. Add the seeds and the pod to the pot. Add 2 cups of quince juice to the pot.
Bring the quince mixture to a boil. Skim well to remove all the foam. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue cooking about 10 minutes.
Return the jam to a full boil and cook hard for 5 minutes, stirring all the time. The jam should have become much thicker. Check the set.
Fill sterilized jars with the hot jam, leaving almost no head space.
Close with 2 piece canning lids, invert and cool. The next day, check that the jars are all sealed.