By happy coincidence, cooking apples, pears and quince are harvested around the same time and do not need to be preserved immediately; they will store well whilst I decide what to do with them.
Each one is a star for preserves although pears are not great for jam on their own due to their lack of setting properties. However, when mixed with fast setting quince and cooking apples they bring a delicate flavour that harmonises with the honey sweetness of quince and the acidity of cooking apples. Some years I have more pears to play with, and this year is one, along with a quince tree that has decided to wake up and produce more fruit during the last two years and less ( but better quality) cooking apples.
As I live in Somerset, famous for its cider, I decided to replace the water in the recipe with dry cider. Alternatively, replace the cider with water if you prefer. The recipe produces a jam with a burnished orange colour, a blended fruit/ sugar flavour and a traditionally gelled consistency. Excellent as an alternative to marmalade on toast.
Apple, Pear and Quince Jam Recipe
500g cooking apples
500g barely ripe pears
Pared rind and juice half a lemon
750ml dry cider
1.4kg granulated, cane sugar
1. Peel and core the apples, pears and quince. Dice the fruit. Retain the peel and cores. Mince the pared rind of the lemon, peel and cores in a mini chopper or food processor. Tie them up in a piece of muslin, 38cm x 38cm. Add it to a large preserving pan with the diced fruit, and the cider.
2. Simmer the fruit gently until tender, about 20-25 minutes. Squeeze out the muslin bag against the inside of the pan and set aside. Do a pectin test, it should produce a big clot, if not simmer the fruit for longer and test again. Add the juice of half a lemon.
3. Heat the sugar in an oven set at 140C for 30 minutes. Add the sugar to the preserving pan and stir until it has dissolved.
4. Bring the jam quickly to a rolling boil and boil hard until setting point is reached. Test for a set after 7 minutes using the flake or thermometer test. As soon as setting point is reached, remove the pan from the heat and leave it to stand for a few minutes. Push any scum from the surface of the pan to the side and remove it with a metal spoon.
5. Gently stir the jam and pour it into the jars, up to the brim. Seal the jars immediately with new twist top lids. Leave the jars upright and undisturbed to set.