the magical smell of quince

quince jelly

The hardest thing about making quince jelly is getting your face off the quince. Quince smells so good. It’s a bit silly how good it smells. I can’t think of a single, suitable word to describe it. Some people call it ‘floral’ but I’m not sure that’s enough.

quince and book

quince with the bloom rubbed off on the left, and still fuzzy on the right.

We found a kilo bag of quince going cheap at our grocer, and after checking it for that important and mysterious smell, and deciding that we can live with the few bruises it had, it was snapped up.

chop quince

After a few days of leaving the quince in the kitchen like a bunch of flowers, I decided to go ahead and make jelly.

But I fell for the same trick as usual. This is the trick where you think you will get heaps of jam and then you only get a few jars. I thought a kilo would make a reasonable output? No.  I got two jars of quince jelly. Two jars!!

[Sad trombone noise]

I’m almost positive that no jam recipe has ever yielded what it is meant to. How rude.

Look at all those empty jars. Pffft.

The paucity of my result is nothing against this recipe though. Because I should say I chose this recipe for a good reason. It is a real life recipe.

What I mean by real life recipe is this. When I buy bits of food in order to preserve it, I never seem to buy 1.7 kg of quince, or 4 cups of chopped quince, or 20 kilos of quince, or whatever our preserving books tend to arbitrarily demand. But this recipe, this wonderfully practical recipe, gives you a ratio of sugar to strained quince juice. And that sir, is the business.

(Just take it from me, and use more than a kilo of fruit).

Quince Jelly


Variation on the Apple and herb jelly by Pam Corbin, River Cottage Handbook No. 2.

Ingredients are Just quince and sugar. (Check for the inimitable smell)

1. Chop up the quince. No need to peel or core.

2. Put in a pot for cooking jam in, cover with water. At this point you could add something like cinnamon or cloves if you wanted some spice flavour.

3. Bring to a boil, then simmer until fruit is nice and soft. For me with 1kg this was about 1.5 hours.

4. Strain and keep juice. If you have a jelly bag setup, go for it. Feed the quince scraps to your chickens.

5. Maths time.  Sorry, but this is where the ratio comes in. For each 600ml of liquid you have, get 450g of sugar.

6. Put the quince juice and the sugar back on heat, and return to the boil until reaching setting point. I like the wrinkle test best.

7. Pour into sterilised jars.  Probably not as many as you thought you would need.

We generally leave any preserves on a wooden counter, or bread board, at least overnight before moving them into the preserve cupboard. It’s something to do with getting a good seal. Haha. is it possible to use the word seal without imagining the marine seal? Nope.

preserve cupboard

Would you look at that. I always dreamt of having a cupboard full of preserves in beautiful colours.  Aim high in life!


20 thoughts on “the magical smell of quince

  1. I haven’t made quince jelly but I like to buy a few quinces to poach. I leave them out in the kitchen for a few days to enjoy the smell of them, first! Thanks for liking my post, or I might not have found your site, which I think is wonderful.

    • Next time I only have a few I will poach them instead! They definitely deserve their space on the counter 🙂

      • Absolutely. One of the best smells of autumn, I reckon. I don’t get how something so oddly misshapen, hard to cut and peel and horrid to eat when raw, can give off such a beautiful fragrance, turn such a pretty rosy colour and taste so darn good when cooked. Poached quinces are great to have in the fridge and keep for a good couple of weeks. I usually just end up eating them on their own and the diluted syrup makes for an interesting drink. This year I think I’m going to try roasting them. When I’m ready to make jelly I’m going to come back to this post and use your recipe, thank you!

  2. That preserve book is pretty great. I wish my copy wasn’t in storage. Look how beautifully clear your jelly is. Great job.

  3. Awww. Sad trombone noise accompanied by a picture of your optimistically laid out jam jars, awaiting the jelly that will never fill them! I empathise: a few years ago a friend gave me three unhappy quinces that had been sitting at the bottom of her fruit bowl. Well. You can guess how far THEY went. Hmph.

    But you’re right, they do smell good, and the liquid-sugar ratio thing here is very useful, thank you!

    • Oh no! I can’t really help from Melbourne! But I was using a British book so they must be around somewhere… Maybe you could ask your grocer when they are in season and if they ever get them in?

  4. I LOVE quince jelly! One of my favourite childhood foodmemories is of my uncle arriving with a whole box with jars of home made quince jelly especially made for me. I have never thought of making it myself. But your post changed that 😉 Can’t wait to try!

    • That’s awesome 🙂 I love sparking good memories! What a great guy your uncle was. A whole box of jam just for you!!

  5. I’ve never actually seen a fresh quince. I’ve eaten quince paste and jelly on quite a few occasions (yum!) but now I’m determined to track down some quinces to make some for myself.
    By the way… how awesome is your preserve cupboard?!! You guys are cool preserving cats!

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