I. QUINCE SYRUP
makes around 6 x 8oz jars of syrup. Can what you don’t immediately use with your favourite canning method.
8 to 10 quince (about 4 lb)
2 slices of lemon peel
1 vanilla pod, split
a sturdy pot
a potato masher
a large bowl
a sieve and cheese cloth
six 8oz mason jars
a candy thermometre (optional)
1. Wash the quince well to get rid of all the fuzz.
2. Core, quarter and chop the quince into cubes. You can choose to keep the peel or not. If you take the extra time to peel them, you can also make membrillo with the pulp later.*
3. Put all the quince in the pot with the lemon rind and vanilla. Cover with water and bring the whole thing to a boil first. Then let simmer for an hour or so, until the quince pieces are tender.
4. Fish out the vanilla pod but leave the lemon rind in.
5. Mash the quince with a potato masher to form a pulp. Strain out the quince juice in a bowl through a sieve lined with cheese cloth. Again, if you peeled your quince, save the pulp.*
6. Measure out how much juice you have as you return it to the pot. For every cup of juice, add half a cup of sugar. You can adjust the quantities to taste, but at 1:1 juice to sugar ratio, you will get quince jelly.
7. Dissolve the sugar and bring the syrup to a boil. Let it boil until the syrup thickens. (You should aim for 6 to 8 degrees above boiling point on your candy thermometre.)
8. Can what you don’t immediately use to store up to a year. Keep opened syrup in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Discard if the syrup starts turning cloudy.
II. KOREAN PEAR INFUSION
1 8oz jar of quince syrup
1/2 a large Korean pear
2 to 3 tbsp honey (depending on the sweetness of the quince syrup)
ginger to taste
a clean glass jar with an airtight lid (16oz works best)
1. Peel the Korean pear, quarter to remove the core, slice each quarter as thinly as possible. Stuff the jar with as many spices of pear as possible. (You can also grate the pear, but the tea mix won’t keep for long that way.)
2. Peel and thinly slice the ginger. Add however many slices of ginger you can stand. Don’t worry about even distribution: the whole jar gets shaken later.
3. Drizzle honey over the pears and ginger. Cover everything with quince syrup.
4. Screw the lid on the jar and give it a good shake. The tea mix should be shaken before each use. Store in the refrigerator and use all the tea mix as soon as possible, up to a week.
Put a few spoonfuls of syrup and a few slices of pear in your favourite teapot – avoid the ginger slices unless you have a cold/someone next to you has a cold. Add boiling water (and possibly a few dried jujubes). Wait a few minutes before pouring. Wait some more before drinking. (Eat the pear slices when no one’s watching.)
*If you saved pulp for membrillo, here’s what to do with it. You can either squeeze a bit less water out when you strain the quince pulp or add a little water to pulp that you squeezed very dry. Pass the pulp through a blender to really break down the fibres. No worries, it will be fine as long as it looks like a puree. Before returning the pulp to the pot, you need to mesure out how much of it you have. For every cup of puree, you need to add a cup of sugar.
Stir in the sugar on low heat until it’s dissolved. Squeeze half a lemon in. Continue to cook for an hour, stirring from time to time to make sure your paste is not sticking to the pan. Even on the lowest heat setting, the paste tends to bubble a bit, so be careful when stirring. From there, it may need up to another hour of cooking, depending on the consistency and colour.
Membrillo should be an almost translucent orange-red and thick enough to hold up on its own. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to see if the thin layer of paste in the wake of the spoon is making an almost sizzling sound.
When it’s ready, pour the paste in a pan lined with greased parchment paper. Smooth the top as much as possible. It shouldn’t much more than a half inch thick layer if you use an 8×8 brownie pan. Set your oven to the lowest setting it can go and put the pan in to dry the membrillo. Bake in hourly increments. Just flip it from time to time until it dries to the consistency of firm cheese. If it’s not setting in the centre, you can cut the parts that are ready to eat and keep baking the piece that still needs to dry.