Thursday, July 24, 2014

Preserving Quinces in Syrup

Fruit and lizard Giovanna Garzoni (1600-1670) from Pinterest

This week I have been experimenting with preserving. I was given some quinces a while back, and I was told that if I peeled and pared them, they would freeze well. I did that and they have been in the freezer for about a month.

Recently a friend lent me a copy of the cookbook ''The Good Housewife's Jewel''. It is a great book, full of recipes that I wanted to try. I found this one-

To Preserve Quinces in Syrup All the Year (p. 98)

Take three pounds of quinces, being pared and cored, two pounds of sugar and three quarts of fair running water. Put all these together in an earthen pan and let them boil with a soft fire. When they be skimmed, cover them close that no air may come out from them. You must put cloves and cinnamon to it after it is skimmed, of quantity as you will have them to taste. If you will know when they be boiled enough, hang a linen cloth between the cover and the pan, so that a good deal of it may hang in the liquor. When the cloth is very red, they be boiled enough. Let them stand till they be cold. Then put them in  gally pots [with] syrup, and so they will keep a year.

I didn't have three pounds of quinces, so I  had to adjust the recipe accordingly. It was a nice change to have a Renaissance recipe that has some  quantities listed! I used 1.5 pounds of fruit, 1 pound of sugar and six cups of water. The water was restricted by the size of my pan and I used filtered water.

I use an electric stove, which makes it difficult to achieve the equivalent of a 'soft fire'. I used cold water and put the pot full of quinces on the stove on the lowest setting and just let it come to the boil very gradually (which took a couple of hours.) I left it gently simmering for about five or six hours (my stove is very hard to adjust to.) My quinces didn't need much skimming. I am not sure if this is because of the variety, the purity of the water or the fact that the quinces has been frozen.

 I used a saucepan instead of an earthen pot, and since the inside is white, there was no need to hang a cloth in the liquor to see if it was red enough. It had turned  a lovely deep red. I added my spices in the last hour of cooking. I knew that the quinces would have to cook for a long time on my particular stove, and I didn't want the spice flavour to be affected by the long cooking process.

I added 1.5 tsp of powdered cinnamon and about 20 whole cloves. After about 25 minutes I removed 14 of the cloves because the mixture smelt too strong. I let the pan cool overnight and decanted the cold mixture into a sterilised preserves jar. A little taste test revealed a truly delightful taste that I had not expected. This mix would be wonderful with a rich vanilla icecream or whipped cream. I hope I can resist it until the next SCA event!

(Sorry about the pic but Blogger won't believe me that this picture is supposed to show an *upright* jar full of yumminess!)

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