Saturday, September 22, 2007
Beautiful flowers, fragrant fruit: Chaenomeles or flowering quince
Most of you are familiar with quinces (Cydonia oblonga), the ancient fruit used to make the Spanish membrillo paste that's wonderful with cheese (for fantastic quince posts see here, here, and again here). But how many of you know that the flowering quince (Chaenomeles Lindl) - related, but by no means the same fruit - is also edible?
Not many, I suspect. Known as the Nordic lemon because of their high Vitamin C content, they also contain a lot of pectin as well as citric and malic acid, which makes them excellent for jam-making or canning. Above you can see fruit still attached - and picked - from my mum's very beautiful flowering quince bush. They're popular in Estonia, as flowering quinces are very ornamental - and they yield some useful fruit as well! The seeds - and there's up to 100 per fruit! - of flowering quince should not be eaten as they're high on amygdalin that some people react to. However, as there's twice as much vitamin C in the peel as there's in the flesh of the fruit, then it's best to leave flowering quinces unpeeled.
Flowering quince extract
My mum's recipe
The easiest way for using is to cut the deseeded fruit into small slices and mix with equal amount of sugar. The jars filled with this mixture should be kept in a cool storage for a few weeks, until sugar has dissolved (you need to shake the jar every now and then for best result). The resulting flowering quince extract should be kept in the fridge, and can be used to sweeten and flavour tea, or just hot water - it has a lovely and a bit lemony taste. (Or, if you prefer, you can use honey instead of sugar for making this extract). This is my mum's preferred way of preserving and using flowering quinces..
However, being into jamming and canning as I am, I made jam with my flowering quinces. I made two different versions - one sweet (as prescribed in the book), one less so (as to our preference). Both were lovely on their own. The high pectin levels help to turn this jam into a nice think almost marmelade-like concoction that will be tasting of early autumn when spread on a slice of toast during the soon-to-arrive dark and cold Estonian winter..
Apple & Flowering Quince Jam
Adapted from Hilda Ottenson "Hoidised" (1977) and Loreida Eisen, Toivo Niiberg & Karl Veber "Ebaküdoonia aias ja köögis" (1999)
1 kg apples
0.5 kg flowering quinces
200 ml water
0.75-1.3 kg caster sugar
Wash and core the apples and cut into chunks (no need to peel the apples, if you're using organic/non-sprayed fruit). Cut flowering quinces into small slices, remove the seeds. (I weighed my fruit after this preparatory stage).
Put the quinces, sugar and water into a large saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the fruit appears to have softened and the sugar has dissolved into a syrup, then add apples and bring to the boil again.
Simmer for 10-20 minutes, until apples have softened, and you've got a nice, thick jam (it will thicken as it cools down, so you don't want it to be too thick at this point).
Cool just a little, then pour into sterilised cans and close.
Keep in a cool and dark storage for best results.
WHB: This is also my entry to the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Myriam of Once Upon A Tart. Click on the logo below for more information about this established foodblogging event.