For months now I’ve been courting the idea of making quince jam or quince jelly from “the bush” on my front lawn. First, I have to explain “the bush”. As I think I’ve mentioned before, we’re living in the house that Chris’s great aunt once lived in, and along with her badly neglected flower beds, we inherited this bush that’s plunked in the middle of the front lawn. Before I moved in Chris used to hire someone to cut the lawn and trim the hedge, and that always included this bush, because it grew so big every year it made backing out of the driveway a bit hazardous. We continued the aggressive trimming tradition after I moved in but dispensed with the lawn guy, who had taken to showing up only sporadically anyway. Then our neighbour from across the street mentioned that if we left it alone, it would flower as beautifully as his own version, which was always loaded with beautiful, voluptuous red blossoms each spring. We’d only seen a few orange blossoms on ours here and there, and certainly they were not at all impressive.
So this year I did a little research to try to name this beast. I discovered that it’s a flowering quince, and that we had really been abusing the poor thing. With much coaxing I convinced Chris to keep his shears at bay, and while it continued to grow long, thorny branches, it also flowered quite a bit this spring, and I’m very excited to see how it will do next year. But also to my surprise, it also produced an abundant crop of quince fruit.
So I hummed and hawed, and watched them all summer long, not really knowing when to harvest them. They’re supposed to turn yellow when they ripen but as you can see in the photo above, many of mine stayed quite green. I had kind of given up on them until a few weeks ago when I finally got around to raking the leaves up. I filled a large bucket with quinces, most of which had fallen off the bush. I figure this must be a sign of ripeness, but I still wasn’t sure if I was committed to trying them out. The bucket sat in the garage until today.
What got me inspired was Straight from the Farm’s gorgeous post about quince jam (her photography is always so inspiring too!). Like Jennie, I have the flowering quince variety, Chaenomeles, not Cydonia, the kind of quince grown for its fruit. But it worked just as well.
I basically followed Jennie’s recipe except I decided after about an hour and a half of cooking to add a package of fruit pectin, because my jam just didn’t seem to be setting. I wasn’t sure how the jam would react to having the pectin added that late but it was just fine, and it thickened up right away. I should also add I wasn’t sure if my jam was going to get that gorgeous pink colour that Jennie’s has; it seemed to take a really long time to get there, but it did. The jam tastes very good. It has a bright tangy zing to it. I think if I were to do it again I might consider going the jelly route, just because of the unusual texture of the fruit, which I can be picky about. But I dare say the experiment is a success!
And now I have something to give my Grama for Christmas, who has a thing for the old fashioned and less popular fruits and berries like gooseberries, elderberries, and now hopefully, quince!