Last year I threw away the produce of my Dwarf Flowering Quince (chaenomeles) because I thought they were parasitic growths. It was their stalklessness that confused me, and in my defence I didn't know the name of the inherited plant with salmon-pink winter/spring blooms back then. After finally classifying it by accident, I found out that quinces had been valued in ancient times as air fresheners. I had seen them listed in pie recipes to give an enhanced apple essence, but as quinces can't be bought in local shops I didn't have a clue of their scent or flavour and have waited almost a year to harvest them this time.
My chaenomeles bush, which is actually a thicket of suckers, produced four pomes. I'm hoping for more next year as the suckers increase.
Chaenomeles are smaller, rounder, harder and more tart than regular quince (cydonia oblonga), unpleasant to eat raw, ideal for jam-making. They don't have a structured core like an apple, instead there are relatively large, pith capsules containing several seeds which pleases the gardener in me but not the cook. The yellow skin darkens and secretes aromatic oil as the fruit ripens; the scent is a cross between grapefruit and apple, but that's not doing justice to its perfume. I sliced two pomes thinly, without peeling them and boiled them down with four heaped tablespoons of sugar to a pulpy jam. The skin didn't disintegrate but could be cut with a spoon; I'm glad I kept it for its flavour and appearance. The other two fruit have been left in the fridge to simulate bletting by frost, hopefully this will sweeten them so I wont have to add so much sugar.
|cooking quince jam|
As it cooked, I thought about the most appropriate use of this precious dollop of quince jam; it didn't seem fitting to spread it on toast for breakfast. Maybe I could spoon it on top of a creamy rice pudding for two prepared for a special occasion ... I plopped the jam in a glass to cool and had a taste. It fizzled on my tongue like sherbert, my mouth was filled with its citrusy, appley tanginess. It probably needed more sugar and slightly longer cooking but I continued to eat it slowly, just taking a little on the tip of my spoon each time, due to its potency.
I sat on the back door-step, leaning against the doorway; my favourite place from where I can survey one side of the garden, eating the quinces that had grown there; deciding which plants needed to be moved from here to there, and there to here; which plants would be lightly pruned, cut back to the ground or left to grow wild; which seeds could be collected now and those that had to wait a while. Spoonful after spoonful and plant after plant ..... zzzzzzzzzzz
I'm linking this post to Donna's meme Word for Wednesday : REPOSE
Please check out the other posts at : http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com/2011/10/04/word-for-wednesday-repose/