Jamming it up in Italy

Marmellata di mele cotogne – Quince jam

Origin – Italy

She in left hand bears a leafy quince; When with her right she crooks a finger, smiling, How may the King hold back? Royally then he barters life for love. – Robert Graves

A favourite fruit of Romans and Ancient Greeks, the quince, or Cydonia Oblonga, was dedicated to Venus, and so frequently featured in marriage feasts and gifts in the Middle Ages across Europe.

Today, it is considered a forgotten fruit, so I was very lucky, that on a cold rainy November day in Italy, I was invited to learn how to make quince jam, a traditional delicacy of Tuscany and Sicily.

It is a rather curious fruit, shaped like an apple and with the texture of a pear. Its citrus fragrance can infuse your kitchen with the merry scent of an orchard. Nature’s imperfect perfection? Almost…they need to be cooked before they can be eaten.

High in pectin, they can be used to make delicious jams, and I was delighted to read that the word “marmalade” originates from the Portuguese translation for quince, marmelo. In Italy, a quince fruit is called una mela cotogna, and I would love for you to try this recipe if you’re thinking of making a homemade jam this Christmas.

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Ingredients

Quince Fruit (1 kilo in weight when diced)

A slice of lemon

1 tbsp lemon juice

Water

250 grams sugar

Sterilised jars

Preparation and cooking

  • Wash and dry the fruit thoroughly.
  • Dice the fruit into one-inch cubes, removing the core. There is no need to peel the fruit.
  • Add the lemon juice to the fruit as you dice it, to prevent it from going very brown.
  • Weigh the fruit, ensuring you have a kilo of diced quince.
  • Add to a large pot and turn the heat on to medium.
  • Add a slice of lemon to the pot to enhance the flavour of the fruit.
  • Keep stirring the fruit with a wooden spoon, adding water if needed to prevent sticking to the pot.
  • Cook for 30-45 minutes until the fruit gets soft.
  • Mash the fruit with the wooden spoon, or use a hand blender to blend the fruit smooth.
  • Stir in the sugar and turn off the heat.
  • Add the jam to sterilised jars and close the lids tightly. Turn the jars upside down until they reach room temperature. This will create a vacuum seal, ensuring the jam will stay preserved.
  • Store the jars in a cool dry place, right side up.

Get more inspiration here on using quince fruit in cooking.

Enjoy!


I would love to have a look if you make it! Tag your photo with #veggieshewrote on Instagram.

 

 

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