Quince are the delightful rustic and funky apple cousins that appear at the end of summer.
Their season is, alas, short lived, so my advice is, pounce on them. They are dreamy, in a savory dish, such as this chicken apple dish, using quince instead of apples. But the dish quince is best known for is the mold we grew up with.
Quince Mold: Gelee de coings.
Quince are delightfully intriguing:
- Their neutral white color turns pink during the cooking.
- Their seeds and skin contain a lot of pectin, and contribute a great deal to the gelling quince mold is so prized for.
I make my Quince mold without any sugar
You will find no end of recipes for the mold or jelly. To say they are all incredibly time consuming is a major understatement. PLUS, they all come with a huge problem: They are all made with inordinate amounts of sugar. There is no way I was going to do that! So I did what I do best: I tinkered!
I angrily threw out the first half dozen batches, which looked like nothing. THIS here is the keeper!
- I cooked it in pure unfiltered apple cider
- I used Gelatin!
- I greatly streamlined the preparation.
So, OK, it does not look quite as dramatic or as lustrous as the sugar-based one. But the texture and the flavor of mine are amazing. Does anything else count? Thank you!
Unmolding for Beginners:
Much more foolproof, much less precarious and much more guaranteed than dipping the mold in hot water, inverting etc… just the thought gave me the jitters. So I used a parchment round mold (check out all the shapes and sizes). Parchment molds are the absolute best. You will never use again those unsafe foil molds that leech their metal particles all over the place. Unless you are using REAL cake or muffin molds, THIS is the way to go!
I placed the finished gelled mold on a plate (just to be clear: AFTER it gelled), and gently tore off the paper mold all around, and in the center. Perfect! And perfect slicing too!
Behave yourself with gelatin
Talk about a problem child! Now is not a good time to be “creative”. Trust me. It will not work. Gelatin gave me a run for my money when I was a novice cook, and well beyond. You just learn pretty soon that you need to follow orders. Rigorously. The orders are very simple, but if you don’t follow them your recipe will never gel. So here come the main guidelines:
- Gelatin must first be thoroughly dissolved and softened in a little cold liquid.
- It must then be combined with a boiling liquid.
- Right amount of gelatin: Allow 1 tablespoon per pint of liquid or other ingredients
- All other ingredients the recipe calls for must be warm, hot or at room temperature. Not chilled
- Allow 5-6 hours for your mold to gel. Overnight will of course be perfect.
- Keep Gelatin molds chilled at all times, except of course the time it takes to serve it and eat it.
- 2 large quince, unpeeled
- Include 1/2 cup sugar only if you like it sweeter.
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon
- 2 cups pure unfiltered apple cider
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/4 calvados or slivovitz, liquor stores. Optional, but delicious!
- 2 1/2 envelopes (2 1/2 tablespoons) Gelatin, unflavored, unsweetened
- 1/2 cups cold water
- 1 cup pure unfiltered apple cider
Quarter the quince. Remove the cores. Place these cores, seeds and all, in a cheesecloth bag tied with string. Dice the fruit.
Bring the fruit, sugar (if using), the cider and the cardamom, including the cheesecloth (make sure it is immersed in the cooking liquids), to boil. Reduce the flame to medium low, and cook covered for 1 hour. Stir occasionally to avoid scorching. The mixture will be reduced by at least 1/3.
Stir in the liquor. Discard the cheesecloth, but first press hard on it to get all the good stuff out. Transfer the mixture to a food processor.
When the fruit mixture is almost cooked, dissolve the gelatin in the cold water in a small bowl. Let the mixture rest a few minutes. Bring the 1 cup cider to a boil, and stir in the gelatin mixture until throughly combined. Do not allow this mixture to cool. Add it to the food processor, and blend until perfectly smooth.
Pour the hot mixture into a 6-cup parchment mold, or two smaller molds.
Chill the mold until perfectly set. Unmold as explained in the intro. Cut in wedges and serve chilled.
If you are using real molds:
Of course you can pour your mixture into real molds (Wow. Either you are brave, or you are not a beginner, in both of which cases I applaud you!) Stand the molds briefly in a container hot water, making sure the water never comes in direct contact with the jelly. This will loosen the jelly from its mold. Invert the mold onto a serving plate.