This is a mixture of fresh quinces, sugar and lemon juice, stewed slowly to a glorious pinky-orange syrup, set with a little gelatine, poured into a mould, tipped out and served, chilled, with cheese and crackers.
'Not another quince recipe!' my kids roared when I presented this as a starter, and (using the leftovers; see recipe) quince-crumble and cream as the pud. 'Enough with the quinces, already!'
Okay, so maybe I have gone a bit overboard on this blog with quince-related recipes (see quince jelly and quince paste), but I can't help myself: what a beautiful, fragrant fruit it is, it is, it is.
And, besides, it reminds me of that lovely line from the favourite poem of my childhood: Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat:
They dined on mince, and slices of quince
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Don't peel or core the quinces: the skins and seeds are rich in pectin.
4 large quinces, rinsed and rubbed clean of fuzz
enough water to cover
1 cup (250 ml) white sugar
juice of one small lemon
1 Tbsp (15 ml) powdered gelatine
Chop each quince into six large chunks, skins, pips and all. Place the pieces in a saucepan and add enough water to just cover the pieces. Tip in the sugar and the lemon juice. Turn on the heat to a medium setting and, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar, bring to a low boil. Once every grain of sugar has dissolved, turn down the heat to a very low setting and allow to stew gently, for two to three hours, or until the chunks of fruit are very soft, and syrup has thickened and turned to a deep, rich pink-red colour.
Remove the pan from the heat. Tip the contents of the pan into a colander set over a large bowl. (Keep the soft quince chunks left in the colander aside for a crumble pudding: here's a recipe).
Now pour 450 ml of the strained quince syrup into a bowl. If there is less than 450 ml of syrup, add enough hot tap water to bring it up to the 450 ml mark. Set aside.
Put 60 ml (4 tablespoons) of very hot (but not boiling) water in a little bowl, and sprinkle the gelatine powder over its surface. Stir briskly until every speck of powder has dissolved. Pour the gelatine mixture into the quince syrup, and stir well.
Pour the mixture into small individual jelly moulds (any small dish, such as a ceramic ramekin dish, will do) and place in the fridge for two to three hours.
When you're ready to serve the dish, dip the bottom of each mould into a bowl of boiling water for a few seconds. Unmould onto a plate and serve with a selection of cheeses and crackers.
Makes 3 small (about 150 ml each) jellies.