Kaya and I got sick last week, and it took me until just about now to feel like an actual human again. (Luckily things went a bit faster for Kaya.) It wasn’t anything serious, just a cold/cough double whammy, but it was compounded by lack of sleep and left me feeling like anything I touched would be instantly and irreversibly contaminated. Thus, I was a little while in making that quince jam that I mentioned a while back. (I did eat a fair amount of quince fresh, though, and that was nice.)
With my gumption restored, I set myself to the task and I bring you, without further ado (but sadly not many photos since I had to wait until the boys were asleep at night to do the bulk of the work), my mother-in-law’s completely foolproof quince jam:
PRESSURE COOKER QUINCE JAM
1 kg. quince (this is the weight of the grated fruit, not the whole fruit)
1 kg. sugar
1/4 c. water
(If you are not a kitchen scale type, I did measure out the sugar and the quince, and it works out to be about 4 1/2 cups of sugar and 8 cups of quince. However, I would make it 5 cups of sugar to 10 cups of quince because it’s never good to have jam that is overly sweet. )
1. Wash the fuzz off your quince, if it still has it (I’ve noticed that the quince at the market has already been divested).
2. Squeeze the lemon and pour the juice into the pressure cooker and dump the sugar in there as well.
3. Grate the quince on a box grater or in a food processor, and weigh it as you go along. (I do not peel beforehand, but you can if you prefer.) Save the cores! I grate in batches, weigh, and add to the pot and mix it with the sugar. This is because I hate to watch all that grated quince turn brown. Let me hasten to add, however, that browned quince turns into handsome jam for reasons that will become clear. So there is no need to go crazy unless, like me, you already are.
4. Once you’ve got a kilo of grated quince, go ahead and grate a few more for good measure, if you have them, and add them to the pot for good luck.
5. Gather up your quince cores and break them in half to reveal the seeds. Collect any seeds that are not buggy or moldy and tie them in a square of cheesecloth. (I could not find my cheesecloth so I ended up emptying a teabag. This also works. You just don’t want free-range seeds.) The seeds are crucial to the color of the jam. Without them, you get a wan, yellowy jam. The seeds give your jam a rich carnelian color.
5. In another square of cheesecloth, tie up the cloves and throw that in the pot.
6. Add the water.
7. Close your pressure cooker up and bring it to high pressure over medium high heat. Turn the heat down and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes.
8. Enjoy the sweet perfume of quince that fills your kitchen, like lemongrass and rose.
9. Bring the pressure right down after the 10 minutes and open the cooker.
What you see will most likely be discouragingly runny and not rich carnelian. Do not despair. Leave the jam alone for a while with its seeds (say, overnight or three hours even) and when you come back to it and give it a stir you will find that it is very thick indeed, and red like hot lava.
10. Fish out your seeds and cloves and bring the jam back up to a boil to get it nice and hot for packing. Then scoop it into sterilized jars. If you like, you can toss a clove or two into each jar. I ended up with 5 jars but the photo I took of them was ugly.
And that’s it! I love this jam because it is so easy and it always sets. I have made a lot of runny jam and even though people are kind enough to say things like, “Oh, it will be great with pancakes!” I find it pretty depressing. This is jam that you can slice like bread. Every. Time.