Quince is under appreciated here in the US, but this easy to make and aromatic ruby red quince jam will soon make you a quince lover out of you!
Since November is here, I think I can officially think about what the heck I’m going to give to friends and family for the holidays. If you are more organized than me, you might have all of your gifts figured out!
One of my favorite gifts I give every year to friends, neighbors, teachers or family are homemade gifts – especially food gifts. And today, I am going to share with you a beautiful and unique fall recipe you can giveaway in a beautiful canning jar: quince jam.
Why this recipe is so awesome
But don’t be sad. Fall fruits make wonderful jams, too! You can make fig jam, pomegranate jelly and my personal favorite, quince jam. Jams are super easy to make and don’t require a long list of ingredients.
Quince jam is quite unique, which makes it even more special. Quince has some beautiful floral tones to its flavor. The fruit is coveted in the middle east, but is relatively unknown here in the west.
It is hard as a rock and very bitter if you eat it raw. But, I don’t recommend eating it raw as it is a bit harsh on the ‘ole stomach. Why bother with this fruit at all? Well, the magic happens when you cook it.
Quince is high in carbohydrates and is a great source of vitamin C and potassium. It is also high in fiber. Quince contains a lot of natural pectin, making it perfect for jamming.
Ingredients you need
You don’t have a giant shopping list when it comes to making jam. It’s super simple and only requires a handful of ingredients.
- Quince: You want fresh quince, so look for fruit that isn’t bruised or old. Once you buy quince, use it within a week as old quince turns brown inside. You won’t notice anything wrong on the outside. So if you cut into your quince and you see brown meat instead of white, toss the quince. It’s too old.
- Granulated Sugar: Jam making requires sugar. You can use brown sugar or honey, but the amounts will be different and I do not know what color it will turn into as I never made quince jam with any sugar but regular ‘ole sugar.
- Water: Quince does not have a lot of juice inside it so you need to add water for the ruby syrup that will swim along your jammed quince.
- Lemon Juice: Like apples and pears, quince oxidizes and starts turning brown when it is cut and exposed to oxygen. Lemon juice also helps quince’s color component, anthocyanins, to develop its beautiful red color. Learn more about quince’s chemistry here.
Recipe Step-by-Step Instructions
1. Wash, core and carefully cut quince into small or large chunks, whichever you prefer. Quince is very hard so pay extra attention as you try to cut it.
2. As you cut and chop your quince, especially if you are making a lot, like I did, keep it in a bowl covered with water and lemon juice to keep it from browning. When you are ready to cook the quince, drain out the water.
3. In a large stainless or copper pot add chopped quince, water, sugar and lemon juice. it all together and bring mixture to boil.
4. Once boiled, cover lid with a towel, to catch steam, and reduce heat to low and simmer until quince changes color, from light pink to dark red. This takes about 2 hours. Stir every 30 minutes to keep from burning. If low on water, stir in more as needed.
The more jam you are making, the longer it will take the change color. When fruit is fork tender and ruby red in color, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Or, if you are canning your jam, click here for hot water canning instructions.
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQS
Quince is a knobby looking apple-pear that is very hard. It doesn’t ripen on the tree and it doesn’t really soften once you pick it.
At first glance, you would think one could just take a bite out of it like an apple or pear, but please don’t. Quince doesn’t soften and they are very bitter in the raw state. That is why you will find that quince is best when cooked, in both savory and sweet dishes
- Because quince are very hard, be very careful when you cut them. You need a very sharp knife and a good grip on the fruit. Be warned, your hand will get a workout while you peel, core and chop the quince.
- Quince oxidizes very quickly when cut, like apples. Lemon juice helps slow this down.
- Old quince fruit may look fine on the outside, but they will have big brown spots when you cut into them. So please make sure your quince is fresh.
- Hot water can your quince jam and give them as gifts.
My family prefers quince jam in chunks, as pictured in this post. You can also shred the quince first and then quick it down for a smoother apple butter consistency. You can also purée the jam chunks once it turns ruby red.
I have found that there are two main factors that change the color of quince as you cook it. First, cook quince in a stainless steel or copper pot. My quince did not change color in any other pot. Second, it takes a couple hours for quince to develop the deep red color, unlike other fruit jams which only require 30 or so minutes to cook.
Quince does not soften or ripen like other fruits. It is very tough and the flesh is extremely sour. Quince is almost never eaten raw, but is delicious when cooked.
- 2 lb quince
- 1 cup water
- 2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 TBS lemon juice
- Wash, core and cut quince into chunks.
- In a stainless or copper pot whisk together water, sugar and lemon juice.
- Stir in the chopped quince.
- Place pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
- Cover the lid of the pot with a towel (to catch the steam), reduce heat to low and simmer until quince changes to a dark, ruby red color, approximately 2-3 hours.
- Stir quince every 30 minutes to keep from burning. If low on water, stir in more as needed.
- When jam is fork tender and ruby red in color, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Or, if you are canning your jam, click here for hot water canning instructions.
You can also add a stick of cinnamon, 4 cardamon pods or a star of anise for added flavor. Just remove after quince jam is done cooking.
The key to your quince jam to changing into a ruby red color is to use a stainless or copper pot. The towel around the lid of the pot is also crucial.
Serving Size:1 TBS
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 130Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 4mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 1gSugar: 25gProtein: 0g
PS If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback.
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This post was originally published November 6, 2012. It has since been rewritten, updated and includes new photographs.