Grandma Grace: The Queen of Quince Jelly
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon making quince jelly. This is a perfect example of how one thing often leads to another. After poaching quince for my quince tatin, I saved the remaining poaching liquid. David Lebovitz described how he turned his left-over poaching liquid into quince jelly. Since quince jelly holds first place in my list of nostalgic memories, I decided to give it a try. My Grandma Grace’s quince jelly sparkled like an amber jewel and tasted sweet and fruity.
I brought the poaching liquid to a boil, clipped a candy thermometer on the side of my pot. The temperature slowly rose to 225 F. I stirred it with a silicon spatula; it looked thin, more like water that syrup. So I continued to let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I sterilized the small jars and lids so they would be ready when the jelly set up.
The temperature seemed stuck at 225 F. Would this be jelly or syrup? It did not seem to be setting up. I poured the hot liquid into the jars hoping for the best.
After several hours, I dipped a spoon into the quince jelly. It was still liquid. I was disappointed and perplexed, “what had gone wrong?” I asked.
I went back over David Lebovitz’s blog, “I reduced the delicious syrup on the stovetop until it was thick and the bubbles became large. Once removed from the heat, as the syrup cooled, the pectin in the fruit encouraged the liquid to be transformed into a lovely quince jelly riddled with dark and aromatic vanilla seeds.”
My quince jelly was lovely, amber with dark speckles of the vanilla. Only problem was it was not jelly, it was a thin syrup-like substance, too thick even to be described as runny jelly. Getting a little tired of this entire episode, I emptied each jar back into a saucepan and turned the heat on high. I boiled it for another 20 minutes on high heat. Once more, I washed the jelly jars and sterilized the jars and lids. Finally, I poured the jelly into the jars. Earlier I had four jars of jelly, after prolonged cooking, I ended up with two jars of the most beautiful quince jelly I’ve ever seen or tasted with just one exception. You guessed it; Grandma Grace still takes the blue ribbon.