Sunday, March 20
Quince & apple sauce for the whole year....
What's in a name? If the knobbly, unyielding Quince was called something warm & fuzzy would it be more popular? Honey berry perhaps, for it's amazing fragrance, or Rose Fruit, after the pretty colour the flesh turns on cooking? Quince is hardly a head turner, but then in the raw, neither is the fruit. Cook it up however, and you have a wonderfully perfumed flesh, which also combines well with other fruit. Boring old apple sauce becomes something else altogether.
And the best bit? I will show you how to bottle it, so after the all too brief quince season is over, you can have a delicious reminder with your pork or duck. Or how about dolloped onto rice pud , stirred through apple crumble, or with your morning muesli and yoghurt. Bottling is easy, even I can do it, and it makes you feel just so darn competent, you will want to preserve everything you can lay your hands on
Before we crack on a quick word on jars. I find the easiest for a beginner (ie me!) is the Bormioli Rocco Quattro brand, available in NZ at Mitre 10 or for about half the price at Arthur Holmes, but you will have to buy a box of 12. They have a rubber seal inside the lid, and a pop up closure, which once treated in water sucks in and lets you know your seal is good. They also look pretty....
Quince and Apple Sauce (from Preserves, the River Cottage Handbook 2, by Pam Corbin)
Enough for 3-4 250ml jars
500 gr Quince (2 large ones)
Juice 1/2 lemon
500 gr Cooking apples -I used Granny Smith
125 gr sugar
First peel and core your quince. I used a small sharp knife, cutting off the skin and chopping the fruit into four and cutting out the core, the same as you would an apple. Chop the flesh into chunks and put in a large saucepan with the lemon juice & 500 mls water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 8 minutes.
Peel and core your apples, cut into chunks and add to the saucepan with the sugar. Boil for another 10-15 minutes until the fruit is completely soft and can be pushed through a sieve.
While this is happening, wash your jars in hot soapy water, then put into an oven at 140C for about 10 minutes, this will sterilise them.
When you have pushed your fruit through a sieve (or if you cant be bothered, just give it a good beat with a wooden spoon) put it back on the heat & bring up to the boil. At this stage it is ready to use, and can be stored in a jar in the fridge for a week or so. If you want to store it for longer (and lets face it, how much sauce can you eat in a week?) then you can preserve it by following these simple instructions.
Take your jars out of the oven and fill with your sauce. Put on the lids ( I sit mine in a sauce pan of simmering water to keep them germ free) and tighten. Then pop them into a saucepan with a folded tea towel on the bottom, large enough to hold the jars without touching, and cover with warm water. I use the same pan I cooked the sauce in, giving it a quick wash.
Bring the water up to simmering point. This is 88C, but if you don't have a thermometer don't worry, just look for gentle bubbling, it wont hurt if the temp is a little over 88C, but you don't need a full rolling boil. Simmer for 5 mins, fish the jars out of the water (I use Mr PK's BBQ tongs, but you can get special ones in cookware shops) and pop onto a wooden board or another tea towel.
Leave to get cold. As the jars are cooling you will hear a popping sound , this is the top sucking in, your sign the jar has sealed and is airtight. If you don't get this, and to be honest I didn't with one jar the first time simply repeat the 5 minute simmer step. I realised after the first fail it was because I had not twisted the cap on tightly, simmering to get an airtight seal on a jar you have not closed properly is an exercise in futility....
If this sounds horribly long winded trust me it isn't, the whole thing took about 45 minutes, and required nothing more complex than the right jars, a saucepan, a few tea towels and a wooden spoon. Preserving this way means you don't need to use loads of sugar or salt, the whole four jars took just over 1/2 cup of sugar, so the sauce isn't sickly sweet. And if you are like me, it is lovely to have a step in the roast "process" already done, I have forgotten the sauce on more than one occasion..........and I come from a family where there will ALWAYS be someone who asks, "but where is the apple/mint/horseradish/plum sauce"........
For further tips and tricks on bottling, preserves and general domestic fabulousness, I can totally reccomend this book, I love River Cottage anyway, but this book especially has me ready to bottle and preserve anything and everything.
Forgive the rambling nomenclature lecture at the start of this post, but I was reminded of a funny story the other day, a lesson in the whims of fashion I suppose.
My sister was walking my nephew home from school, when he turned to her and said "oh Mum, this boy started in my class today & he's got a really funny name"
Now to give you some context my nephews name is Otis, and he attended a rather trendy city primary school, chock full of Oliver's, Mika's, India's, and I believe at least one Tarquin. As you can imagine my sister was intrigued to know what an Otis would possibly think of as a "funny" name.....
"His name's Ken"
This ones for you Ken.