My travel for work is starting to come to a close for the fall. I have traversed all throughout Southwest Virginia, and then made two loops around my home stomping grounds of New England. I always come back from these jaunts excited to be back home, and more often than not inspired by something new that I saw or ate. Like the Lemon-Orzo soup with a hint of kale that I am going to have to replicate, or the incredible mum and pansy displays I saw while driving through the suburbs of Maine and Connecticut, or the plethora of pumpkin spiced lattes and pumpkin spiced muffins and pumpkin spiced donuts.
Inspiration, however, can come from funny little places, too. I got to visit with my Mom and Dad for a hot minute over the weekend, and having not been to their New Hampshire home during this part of October before, I was taken by a little bush up front that had tons of fruit on it. After asking what it was, Mom said, “Quince. But your grandfather says the fruit is inedible.”
Quince! I’d read about this power packed fruit that to the normal person just passing by is too tart to eat off of the bush. But quince has an incredible abundance of pectin–so much so that in the days before I could run to the grocery store and grab a packet of pectin, folks would use quince boiled down to produce it’s own pectin. So much so that the origin of the word Marmalade is actually derived from quince (the Portuguese word for quince is marmelo, and marmelada was originally made with the quince fruit).
After giving this exact lecture to my mother, she agreed to let us try to make something with the fruit, and after a bit of searching, she came up with the Quince-Lemon Marmalade Recipe below. It was easy, relatively quick, and let me tell you–it’s some of the best looking and smelling jam/marmalade I’ve ever seen! The quince cooks down into a beautifully rosy color, and the day after we processed it the whole concoction had jelled up beautifully.
Next on my to do list is to see if I can try to grow one of these gems in Virginia, and to see if the folks can preserve or freeze the remainder of their harvest for a can-a-palooza at Thanksgiving time.
Adapted from Dana McCauley in Cooking Light
4 cups chopped cored peeled quince (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/2 lemon, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2-ish tsps of vanilla
- Place quince and lemon in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely chopped.
- Place quince mixture, sugar, water, and vanilla in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 55 minutes or until reduced to about 3 1/2 cups.
- Cool; pour into an airtight container or process in a hot water bath to can for about 20 minutes.
- Don’t be tempted to crack open that marmalade! It needs at least two weeks untouched to fully develop the flavor. It’ll be worth the wait, I promise!