Quince-Lemon Marmalade

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of the word Marmalade is actually derived from quince (the Portuguese word for quince is marmelo, and marmelada was originally made with the quince fruit).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.

Quince-Lemon Marmalade

Adapted from Dana McCauley in Cooking Light
OCTOBER 2005

Ingredients

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

Preparation

  1. Place quince and lemon in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely chopped.
  2. 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.
  3. Cool; pour into an airtight container or process in a hot water bath to can for about 20 minutes.
  4. 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!

Wrapping up

It feels like the season is starting to wind down–flowers are fading, plants are starting to close up shop, and the last of our vegetables are starting to ripen and turn.  The weather has been deliciously coo, and while I’ll miss the steady influx of fruits and veggies, we’re ready here for a change of pace.

Two things with fall this year–first of all, I’m committing to really completing the fall clean up.  Often we fall really short on wrapping up on all of the things that need to be focused on this time of year–cleaning out flower beds, emptying flower pots gone by, and the like.  Then by next spring what could have been a smaller task becomes a huge deal.  No more–we’re going to get organized, and the house is going to look awesome for it!  On my fall list that I’m working on I’ve got my eye on the kitchen garden and getting the cold frame ready for some late fall salads, tilling the back garden are prepping it for the winter, and finding more spring bulbs to get into the front beds.

My second thought about fall this year is that I often forget the power that a change of season can bring.  I bought some flowering plants at Lowes earlier in the season on their 90% off discount rack.  We brought them back to life, and they flowered once, but then seemed to go dormant again.  In cleaning out the flower pots in the carport, I found that the cooler temperatures have brought the plant back to life yet again–it’s grown back and started to flower again.  I transplanted it up front, and fingers crossed that it continues to showcase it’s beautiful flowers.  It’s a nice reminder that no matter what time of year or what part of your life you’re in, new growth is always possible.  Not bad for ten cents, eh?

Apple Pie!

The weather this weekend has been so perfect–mid-60s, and as fall as fall can be.  I’m home for what seems like a blink and then I head out on my next recruitment trip for work, and it feels like I’m trying to cram all sorts of fall-y goodness into 48 short hours.  So we’ve weeded out the front gardens, I processed some jalapeno peppers, I have rosemary beef stew simmering on the stove, and I made the first pie of the season.

Last year I made apple butter–it happens about once every two years, and started the first fall we lived in this house and JGL told me I couldn’t make my own apple butter.  But back to last year–I had more apples than I knew what to do with, so while I processed the copious amounts of apple butter, I also froze quart sized bags of cinnamon-sugared apples for later.  I thought I had used up most of them, but when I was digging in the freezer today for stew meat, I came across the last of the bags.  After more digging, I found pie crust.  So, when life hands to the ingredients for pie on a cool, crisp, perfect September day…you make pie.

I used a smaller pie plate, and did take some fresh apples and mixed them in with the defrosted apples to add a bit of freshness.  I buttered the pan, and slapped the apples in (we only had enough crust for a one crust pie).  Since the pie plate was smaller, I took a small apple cookie cutter and then layered the crust pieces on top to create the crust.  After dabbing on an egg wash, I sprinkled a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and nutmeg on top.  Baked in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  We’ll be enjoying it warm with vanilla bean ice cream in approximately 45 minutes while we watch my Patriots.

I hope where ever you are right now, life feels about as perfect as is does here at the Homestead.  Happy September!