Quince, quince, and damsons: Autumn fruit recipes to cheer up winter

It may feel like winter to you, my lovely readers - or even summer if you're in the Antipodes - but to me, it's still autumn. No, my little corner of London hasn't got its own microclimate, I've just been raiding my stocks of autumn fruit that have managed to last the season. 

A friend of mine has a quince tree in her garden which has been freakily prolific, laden down with golden, scented fruits. The last few times I've seen her, she's given me a bag of them. I was run ragged by the last term, and I felt just a bit too tired to spend much time in the kitchen. The holidays and new year gave me a fresh cooking mojo though, and I felt compelled to turn the quince into something worthy.

My friend of the quince shared with me some quince jelly she'd made, and I was blown away by the perfumed, rose petals taste and the beautiful pink colour. So I decided to make my own - here's what it looked like:


Now for the disclaimer: I took a picture of the bottom of the jar not only so you could see that peach-pink colour, but also because I only managed to make enough for a couple of inches of jelly! Yep, I turned about five quince into... about as many tablespoons of jelly. If any of you guys are expert jelly makers, please tell me what I did wrong! How did so much quince disappear? I've heard in whisky making, a chunk of the liquor disappears along the way - that chunk is called the angel's share, as it was thought that that angels helped themselves along the way. If that's what happened here, I hope they're enjoying it - there may not be much, but it's still tasty.

I had a bit more success with the quince gin I made. I am totally convinced that there's no fruit that can't make a gorgeous gin out of (apart from may be avocado or tomato, but I wouldn't entirely bet on that!) Making flavoured gin is the easiest thing you can do - chop up some fruit, leave it in the gin for a few weeks and then strain and add sugar.

This time around, I made a couple of extra additions with the cut-up quince: a small quill of cinnamon, and a couple of cloves. The quince gave the gin the most beautiful orange colour - take a look:


It didn't have quite the heady quince-ness of the jelly, but it was still good, and the cloves and cinnamon gave it a gloriously festive flavour.

It's not all been quince, quince, quince here though (which wouldn't have been a bad thing, I think) - I also managed to dig out the bags of damsons from the bottom of the freezer and make them into something. (They looked a bit sad when they defrosted, so please enjoy this photo of my damson haul from a while back).


The simplest thing I could think of was to make this recipe for easy plum/damson jam, which I've made before and is just insanely delicious considering how it's just fruit and sugar. I managed to squeak a couple of jars out of the freezer-damsons, and I'll be using it on top of my porridge - a little bit of jammy autumnal goodness to drive out the winter months.

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4 comments

  1. My mum makes quince jelly but I don't know how much jelly you would expect from 5 quinces. Does it actually move about in the jar or is it set very thick (if you see what I am suggesting about boiling it down quite a bit). (If it is very thick set then I was told you just call it quince cheese and if too runny it is a syrup or sauce). Glad you got some enjoyment out of the quinces - you are lucky to have a friend with a quince tree. I am less familiar with damsons but the sound of damson jam (jamson?) on porridge sounds very warming.

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  2. good to hear that the festive holidays and new year gave you some fresh cooking mojo. I can't advise on the quince jelly as I have never made it, but you have reminded me that I do have some dubbed as quince 'cheese' in the fridge in a jar. I looked at it, its not as shiny and glistening as yours, so perhaps you needed to add something else to bulk it up though. I disagree I think your damsons look fab and actually look rinsed rather than defrosted. I am hoping to forage for some this year as a work colleague told me he sees loads where he goes running every year. PS if I should stumble upon some quinces and its quite rare, I will have to ask you for the quince gin recipe, I am getting quite partial to flavoured gin - having indulged in ginger, violet all made with syrup.

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  3. This is a clever strategy as it feels decidedly wintry outside. I'm just embracing porridge but adding autumn fruit would be a brightening approach!

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  4. I don't think I've ever had quince before, it's a beautiful color. :-) As to the missing quince, doesn't jam-making cook things down so it would be less but more concentrated, no?

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