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Quince Jelly Is a Perfect Use For a Forgotten Fruit

Basket Of Quince

Basket Of Quince

If you’ve not yet met a quince, you have a treat in store. These fragrant, downy, golden globes, distant relatives of the apple family, are not so much forbidden fruits as forgotten fruits. They ripen in late fall, and by Christmas they’ve all but vanished. If you’re lucky enough to find some, swoop on them and set them on a beautiful plate in the kitchen while you consider what to do with them. While you deliberate, the air will be filled with their delicate, faintly lemony scent, likened by 10th century Arab-Andalusian poet Shafer ben Utman al-Mushafi to the perfume of a loved woman.

A quince tree. Credit: Sue Style

A quince tree. Credit: Sue Style

One idea is to peel and core them and bake them whole in the oven, bathed in a syrup of honey, sugar, lemon juice and water. Done this way, they turn magically from a brilliant daffodil yellow to a burnished coppery color. They’re amazingly good served warm with vanilla ice cream. Or chop them up and turn them into chutney, mixed with oranges, raisins, white wine vinegar, sugar and loads of ginger. For an original apple tart, substitute a quince for one of the apples, peel and grate the fruit together, mix with cream, eggs and sugar and bake in a fragile pastry case. Best of all, turn them into a shimmering jelly, which makes a delightful Christmas gift. Pour into pretty pots, cut fabric hats for the tops and label the jars with pride. Append a little note to each jar explaining to the lucky recipient that quince jelly is magic on toast or melted and brushed over an apple tart to give a glossy, totally professional French pastry shop finish.

Quince Jelly

Makes about 8 (1-pound) jars


8 quince


Juice from 1 lemon


1. Take 8 fine, ripe, yellow quinces, scrub them well to remove any down and cut away any brown bits.

2. Cut the fruit in quarters and chop roughly (no need to remove the peel or cores). They’re very hard, so a good, stout knife will be necessary.

3. Put the chopped flesh in a preserving pan.

4. Add enough water to cover the chopped quinces (about 8 cups, depending on your pan and the size of the quinces).

5. Simmer quince very gently for about 45 minutes or until soft when pierced with a knife.

6. Tip the quince into a colander lined with a muslin or other fine cloth set over a large bowl.

7. Leave overnight to let the juice seep gently out – it’s permissible to give it a bit of a squeeze at the end to extract maximum juice, but don’t overdo this or the juice will be cloudy.

8. Discard all the pulp.

9. Pour juice into a measuring jug. For every 4 cups of liquid, allow 1½ pounds of sugar.

10. Put juice and sugar, plus the juice of 1 lemon, in the preserving pan.

11. Bring to a rolling boil, then boil for 20 to 30 minutes.

12. Start testing for a good set after about 25 minutes: Place a saucer in the freezer, spoon a little jelly onto it, leave for a few seconds, then pull your finger through it. The jelly should wrinkle and form a distinct channel.

13. Pour jelly into sterilized jars and cover while still warm.

14. Eat with a runcible spoon.

Top photo: Freshly picked quince in a basket. Credit: Sue Style

Zester Daily contributor Sue Style lives in Alsace, France, close to the German and Swiss borders. She's the author of nine books on subjects ranging from Mexican food to the food and wines of Alsace and Switzerland. Her most recent, published in October 2011, is "Cheese: Slices of Swiss Culture." Her website is

  • Peggye 12·4·12

    I’ve never seen a fresh quince. Are they eatable raw?

  • Sue Style 12·4·12

    Hi Peggy – no, not edible raw, they’re very hard and quite sour – but magic once cooked. Hope you can track some down and try them out!


  • Sue Story 12·5·12

    Quince are also transformed into ruby-like jewels by poaching or slow roasting them for 4-5 hours on a very low heat.Here in NZ we have a tree growing. You can cook them whole provided they are free of the apple moth! Just rub off the furry skin and cook in a heavy syrup.They freeze too,

  • Paula Ungar 12·5·12

    The only place I have seen quince was in paris when I lived there it is not popular here Indy and have not seen it anywhere here. Sincer ely,Paula unaru

  • Lea Zeqiri 12·5·12

    My husband is from Kosovo and I’ve seen these there. He said they’re unedible, oh how surprised they’ll be when I cook them up.

  • Joann O'Melveny 12·5·12

    Quince may be eaten raw. Friends from Chile eat them sliced with salt and a really smelly cheese I cant remember the name of, not me , I had over 400 on my 50 year old tree this year, only about 2 dozen left. The are selling at our grocery stores 2 for $3,00. IU could be a quincenaire I give them away to anyone who knows how to use them, most make the jelly.

  • aikiwoman1 12·5·12

    Quince and apples make a wonderful sauce. The fragrance of ripening quinces is beautiful. Planted two last spring. Hope I will have some quinces so I can make the jelly recipe.

  • Sue Style 12·5·12

    Hi Sue, it’s a perfect image: you take those hard, yellow, sour, daunting fruit, rub off the fluff, bathe them in a syrup (I like to add a little honey and lemon juice to the usual sugar syrup), bung them in the oven and come back later to find the ruby-like jewels you describe so eloquently…you can look forward to them coming round again a bit sooner than we here in the northern hemisphere, lucky you!

  • Sue Style 12·5·12

    Hi Paula – quinces in Paris, sounds irresistible! Love the French name too, coing. Here in Alsace they even distil them to make an eau de vie de coings, mmmmmmmm

  • Sue Style 12·6·12

    Hi Lea – so you spotted quince in Kosovo, lucky you! Did you also taste Rakia, a spirit made throughout the Balkans from mixed fruits, often including quince? Hope you convince your husband that they can be cooked and are delish

  • Sue Style 12·6·12

    Hey Joann – wow, eating quince raw, that takes some doing (and good teeth 😉 As you say, the trees are amazingly prolific and crop heavily – you should set up a farm stall, at $3 for 2 quince you could retire on the proceeds!

  • Sue Style 12·6·12

    Hey Aikiwoman1 – you planted TWO trees (gulp)?? Suggest that like Joann you plan a quince booth outside your house…But you’re going to have fun and make a lot of neighbours happy. And the combo with apples is perfect – try using some of your jelly brushed on top of an apple tart, mmmm

  • @Hello_Kitty_ 1·9·13

    Delicious on a grilled cheese sandwich made with Serrano-style ham and Manchego. Try it!

  • Jane 5·5·13

    Hi I was given some and have made the jelly – would love some ideas on how to use it!!

  • sue style 5·5·13

    `Hi Jane – try it on toast for a breakfast treat, or warm some up in a pan till liquid and brush ontop of an apple tart – nice with a sharp cheese too, like Hello Kitty says….enjoy!

  • Libby 6·1·13

    I have been obsessed with all kinds of jam making in the past year but now I have discovered quince and their magical jelling qualities I have been experimenting with different combos.
    My greatest success to date has been a marmalade made with the boiled quince liquor, orange juice and fine zest. It is delicious with the most silken jell texture and when you bite into the zest there is a rush of dense orange flavour. The oranges were nothing special from a largely untended tree in the retirement village where my mother lives. Unfortunately because I am experimenting there was only four jars 🙂

  • Sue Style 6·5·13

    Hi Libby – love the idea of the quince liquor/orange juice/zest combo – the quince certainly have an amazing amount of pectin which gives that great jelling, and the flavor’s gorgeous. When you next get some oranges from the tree where your mom lives hope you’ll make some more – and share the recipe!

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