Tuesday, May 25, 2010

quince jam - marmellata di mele cotogne

First and foremost I would like to acknowledge that this recipe comes from the cookbook, "Twelve - A Tuscan Cookbook" by Tessa Kiros. As this was my very first attempt at jam making I have not altered the recipe at all, I followed her every word! This book was given to us as a wedding present in 2004 and unbelieveably I have never made anything from it. This recipe, however, was always in the back of my mind saying, "make me!, make me!". Well, I finally listened.

The process, from start to finish, took me 3 hours (not including cooling time at the end). I'm sure when I make it again it will be a little quicker and hopefully I will give you some tips that will lessen the time for you too. I have to say though I felt like an Italian Mama with my headscarf on, chopping and stirring and developing flavours. At each step I marvelled that it was all doing what it was meant to. The aroma throughout the house was like a beautiful rosy perfume. The whole experience was all very magical, especially seeing these bright yellow quinces transform into a rosy red jam in a space of a couple of hours. Truly worth every minute.

Pre-jam making - what you need

* A very large stainless steel pot (or 2 if you have them) to make the jam in but also to sit the filled jars in when you are ready to create your vacuum.
* Have some small jars on hand (I bought special preserving jars that actually did'nt work)Smaller jars that once held dijon mustard or salsa or whatever will be easier to use up as once they are opened they should be kept in the fridge and consumed fairly quickly
* Check that your oven can do 100C for the steralisation process. I discovered on the day that our oven started at 120C! Thankfully I found I could just as easily pop each jar in the microwave to steralise. Whichever you end up using just make sure they are clean
* Make sure everything else you use is clean too, like tea-towels, spoons, knives, chopping boards and even your sink
* You'll also need good kitchen scales, a timer and a hand held blender


* Buy about 2kgs of quinces (You will need 900g worth or 1.3kg depending on whether you want to add the pears too, but by the time you cut out the cores or discard any rotten bits I think it's better to have more on hand then less - in the end I had 3 spare)
* about 3 pears (You will need 400g worth after they have been peeled and cored)
* 1 cup of good red wine (I used Petit Clos by Clos Henri Marlborough New Zealand Pinot Noir - a gift from our friends who we helped cater their wedding)
* 500g Caster sugar (Next time I will use a little less but it in the end it all comes down to taste - see what you think)
* 1 lemon (You will need the zest and the juice)
* 1 litre cold water plus an extra 2 cups of hot water for later

How to make your jam

Wash the quinces with water and dry them with a tea towel to wipe away any fur and grit. Get out your saucepan and bottle of red wine. Cut the quinces into quarters, leaving the skins on but removing the cores. Pop them into the saucepan with the wine and over a low to medium heat, let the wine reduce a little. (If you are not using pears as well make sure you use 1.3kg of quinces instead of just 900g) Meanwhile, get your other bits ready. Peel and core the pears (if using) and zest the lemon. pop these into the saucepan along with the lemon juice, the sugar and the 1 litre of cold water. Bring to the boil then lower the heat slightly and cook for about an hour or until there is only a bit of thickened, syrupy liquid in the pot. (Be careful towards the end of the time as it may catch on the bottom. Stir it often or lower the temp but only until you are happy you are left with the thickened syrup) If using the oven to steralise your jars, pre heat it now to 100C.

Take the pot off the heat and add 2 cups of hot water and puree the quinces with a hand held blender. Put back on the heat and simmer for another 30 to 40 mins or until the jam has thickened and is a deep red colour. Spoon a little jam onto a plate and tilt the plate slightly. The jam should slide down with a little resistance. Take it off the heat if it is ready.

Just prior to this you should wash your jars and lids in the sink using very hot and soapy water. Rinse them, dry them and pop them onto a baking tray and place them in the oven for 10 mins prior to filling them. Take them out very carfully from the oven and carefully fill with the hot jam. Alternatively wash and rinse your jars (don't dry them) and pop them into a microwave, one at a time, for 1 minute per jar. Take them out very carefully and fill with the hot jam. Screw the lids on very tightly. If you have another large pot, use that, otherwise you will need to wash the pot you just made the jam in. Make sure it is extremely clean then fill it with cold water. Place the jars in the water bath ensuring they are well covered (you don't want water to evaporate during the boiling process,exposing the tops. You want to create a vacuum.) Now bring to the boil and once boilng, do so for 20 mins. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the jars to cool in the pot before removing them. Check the lids to see a vacuum has been created. Store them upright in a cool dark place and the jam will keep like this for up to 1 year. Once opened, store in the fridge.

I hope you enjoy making this jam as much as I did! have fun mxx


  1. This is AWESOME Maria! The jam just looks so fresh and delicious!!

  2. Just finished my latest batch of quince jam without the pears. Equally delicious if not more! Yumbo!