Saturday, 31 October 2009

Quince Pickle

I am proud, if a little surprised to report that the quinces are already transformed into quince pickle. I only got them on Wednesday evening. I’m not sure what has spurred me on to this unusually decisive and prompt behaviour. Maybe it’s the thought of explaining to the kind friend who gave me some of the quinces she'd spent her Saturday morning picking, that they’d ended up in the bin. Or maybe it was the prospect of either spending the afternoon pottering about in the kitchen chopping fruit and stirring simmering pickle, or cleaning the bathroom. Whatever the motivation, a mere 4 hours of labour, a blister on my index finger, numerous bowls full of washing up and about a fiver’s worth of raw materials have resulted in  ......... 3 jars of pickle. But they are my jars of pickle. (Please don’t remind me how little a jar of Branston costs.)

Ta da!

I wanted to do something tangy and savoury with the quinces and something that I would actually want to eat regularly. As I’ve said before, I’m not a huge fan of jam or poached fruit – which has been the fate of quinces in past years (those that have avoided the dustbin). I once carefully poached sliced quinces in a rose water syrup and bottled them in a quaint, French, glass preserving jar. They looked beautiful. Delicate pink slivers of fruit suspended in a blush-coloured syrup. I never ate them of course. They just sat on the pantry shelf gathering dust. After about a year I decided to turn them into jam with instead. So a jar of quince and rose jam was produced. I ate very little of it, but I did feel pleasantly smug bringing it out for guests.

This is a pickle rather than a chutney recipe, so the fruit keeps a bit of texture rather than going completely to mush. You can also eat it immediately, unlike chutney which needs a month or two to mature. It tastes pretty good. Quite sweet and sticky, but with a rasp of vinegar and a definite musky flavour of quince.

The original recipe came from here.

Here’s my very slightly amended version and for half the quantity ( I only had 2lb of quinces). I used brown sugar, because that’s what I usually use for chutney. However, it struck me that the original recipe might have meant you to use white sugar, so you can see the pink colour of the cooked quinces, rather than the brown sludge produced in my version. I don't have a lot of experience making pickles! I added the crushed chillies to the recipe, because I wanted something with a bit of bite. I think if I make it again, I will add a bit more chilli. I was a bit nervous of making it too hot, but I’ve probably erred too much on the cautious side. I would probably also slow the cooking down a bit by simmering it with the lid on for half an hour or so first and then cooking the pickle with the lid off to reduce it. The texture of the pickle was ready - i.e. the juices reduced down to a rich syrup, but the quinces were a bit chewy.

Quince Pickle

2lb quince, cored and diced
1 ¼ cups white wine vinegar
1 ¼ cups red wine vinegar
1 ½ tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp crushed, dried chillies
½ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground black pepper
1lb 12 oz sugar
1 tsp salt

Wipe the quinces with a damp cloth to remove the fuzz, then core and dice them. Don’t peel them. Place all the ingredients into a large, heavy-bottomed pan, and simmer, uncovered, on a constant low heat until the quince is a dark rose colour (or brown in my case!). This took about 1 ½ hours – although the original recipe stated that it might take 3 hours. The liquid will reduce down until it has thickened, and barely covers the fruit.

This is what it looked like when it first went on the heat.

This is what it looked like after 1 1/2 hours cooking. Note that it is now in a pan about half the size of the original. I let the pickle catch a bit - ooops - so I put it into a different pan to prevent it being infused with the taste of burnt pickle.

Bottle in sterilised jars with vinegar-proof lids. Keep in a cool place, for up to 2 years (now that's what I call a shelf-life!).

The friend who gave me the quinces recommended this recipe for Quince Balsamico Chutney  which she has made in the past. It sounds lovely, but I couldn't quite face the faff. Worth a look though.

Oh dear -  do you think I'm in danger of starting to finish things, thereby making the title of this blog redundant? Oh - there's always the bowl of soaking chick peas lurking in the bottom of the fridge which I intended making into hummus last weekend. A fairly unlikely prospect at any time, but considering this was  intended for a 'shared lunch' at a weekend course I was attending, and therefore would have meant me getting up early on the Sunday morning to make said hummus, it was pretty much doomed from the start. Turns out that chick peas develop an unappetising scum very quickly when left in the fridge.

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