Quinces have always been a difficult fruit to use because they are tough to cut and prepare for use. So I have been particularly impressed with friend R’s harvest, preparation and then bottling process.
A couple of weeks ago R told me ‘ I have been working hard in the kitchen with the quinces. I have processed eight Fowlers No 20 bottles of them (peeled, cored, sliced and gently cooked) into the Fowlers Preserving unit. That amounts to quite a few quinces, but I still have half a basket full! I’m going to make quince paste and also stewed quinces to store in the freezer. We’ve eaten quite a few already – stewed – with my homemade vanilla bean ice cream. They are delicious! The tree was highly productive this year – a total harvest of 16.5kgs. And of beautiful quality. I think our efforts to take care of the tree have paid off!’
I was amused when she told me to ‘please bear in mind this process is experiMENTAL! But I’ve had fun. I know how to read the instruction booklet – that’s helped…he he.’
The process was as follows ‘So, I peeled, halved, quartered, removed the stone, then halved again depending on the fruit size.’
Now that’s a knife!!!!
She continued, ‘I then made a ‘medium’ syrup, which is 2:1 water to sugar, added the quince pieces, poached gently until they were just tender (which didn’t take long). Then I carefully packed the pieces into clean jars, pressing down firmly and making sure as I went that there were no air bubbles. When filled, leaving about half an inch room at the top, I checked again to make sure there were no air bubbles, then put the lids on, clipped, checked they were on correctly, and then into the preserving unit (thermostatically controlled – aren’t we spoilt?) for an hour.’
Despite her clearly skilled efforts, R told me, ‘I’m not confident as I haven’t done any bottling – bought the unit last year and it’s been preserving itself in the cupboard….but I’m really happy with how these have turned out. I guess time will tell how well I have done. But I’m already feeling I’ve learned a lot today. Tomorrow I’ll take the clips off, check that they’ve sealed properly and store in the larder.’
She recognises that bottling is ‘such a great way to preserve summer fruit for the whole year’. Thanks R for so generously offering your process for others to follow, and for the colourful and instructive photographs.