Quince jam is my husband’s very favorite preserve, and until now I hadn’t ever even seen a quince. He grew up eating homemade quince jam from a backyard tree and dreams of one day having our own quince to harvest. We’ve planted a few trees, but they just can’t stand up to our cold winters. When I saw quince at our local store I knew I just had to make his very favorite quince jam, and now it’s our daughter’s favorite jam too!
If you’ve never worked with quince, you’re in for a bit of a surprise. Truly ripe fruit have an intoxicating aroma, but they’re hard as a rock. Choose quince that are firm and fragrant. If you can’t smell them they’re not ripe yet, give them a week or so on the counter and they’ll have much more flavor.
Still, even fully ripe quince are not good for fresh eating. Try to bite into one and you’ll be sorry. They need cooking, lots of cooking before they’re fit for the table.
Use a sharp knife (and patient hand) to peel, core and chop quince like an apple. They’re so hard that it can be tricky to get the cores out, so be careful. Once you’ve prepared them in small chunks, put them in a saucepan with a bit of water and allow it to simmer on the stove until they start to fall apart.
Be patient, it’s going to take a while. They took longer than any jam I’ve ever made, and I was skeptical. At 30 minutes of simmering, they were still fully formed chunks and not even thinking about falling apart. They were also still completely white, where cooked quince has a beautiful pink color. At 45 minutes of simmering, they abruptly turned pink and fell apart almost at once, so watch for it to happen suddenly…
Once they turn a beautiful rosy color and disintegrate, it’s time to add sugar and get jamming. Quince fruits have plenty of pectin on their own, so they’ll gel nicely into quinces preserves once they’re cooked with a bit of sugar. Add a little lemon juice to bring out the flavors of the fruit, and some warm spices like cardamom, cinnamon or allspice if you choose.
In just a few more minutes of cooking, the jam will come together and you’ll begin to see the spoon leaving trace marks as you stir. When it reaches a consistency that seems right to you, pour the quince jam into prepared canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. At this point, you can either store them in the refrigerator for immediate use or process the quince jam in a water bath canner for 5 minutes.
This recipe for quince jam is adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving which has recipes for just about anything in the world you’d want to preserve.
Quince Jam Recipe for Canning
Quince have an exotic aroma and a flavor all of their own. They cook into a fragrant quince jam with no added pectin.
- 7 cups quince peeled, cored and chopped
- 2-3 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
Peel, core and chop the quince as you would an apple. Simmer them in a bit of water until they turn a rosy color and fall apart (about 30 to 45 minutes). Add water as necessary to prevent the pan from running dry.
Stir the quince to help break them up a bit, then add lemon juice and sugar. I like a low sugar recipe, with 2 cups of sugar. The "standard" recipe is 3 cups, so adjust to your own tastes.
Cook the quince for another few minutes until the jam has thickened and begins to gel.
Pour into prepared canning jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace and either store in the refrigerator for immediate use or process in a water bath canner for 5 minutes.
Looking for more fall preserves? Try any of these: