Japanese quince jelly with star anise

Japanese quince jelly on toast

It looks like a quince, it smells like a quince and it is rock hard, just like a quince.
What is it?
Well, it is almost a quince. It is a relative, it is Japanese quince.

Though the Japanese quince (Chaenomeles) is usually planted for its flowers, the smallish fruits are edible too. The taste is almost identical to the true quince (Cydonia oblonga) and they can be used in the same way. I got a bucket from friends who have one shrub in the garden and are aware of their edibility, but were at a loss as to how to use them. I happily took them on and promised a jar of jelly in return.

Because Japanese quince is a pretty, easy to grow bush, it is present in many gardens that are not primarily edible. Here in the Netherlands it is also a very popular plant for urban landscaping and thus great for city foraging.

Just like the true quince the fruits of the Japanese quince are astringent and harsh when raw but become aromatic and pleasant when cooked. Use them for jams or jellies, on their own or combined with apples. The fruit is best harvested after a frost.


Japanese quince jelly with star anise

If you don’t have enough quince, you can substitute part apples or crabapples, another ornamental edible. The recipe can be used for true quince (Cydonia oblonga) as well. To set the jam, I use Marmello, which is a Dutch brand of organic citrus pectin powder, sold in little packets of 25 g. The use of pectin allows the jam to set with a smaller amount of sugar. You can of course substitute a different pectin brand. If you can’t find it, or prefer your jelly sweeter, it is possible to make the jelly with just sugar, but more of it is needed for the jelly to set (see bellow for amounts) and it takes a lot more time – about half an hour. But because of the longer cooking time, the jelly will also turn a beautiful reddish colour.

2 kg (4 1/2 pounds) Japanese quince (or a mix of Japanese quince and apples)
3 pieces of star anise
about 2 liters (8 cups) water
2 x packets (50 g) of Marmello (citrus pectin powder) mixed with 600g (3 cups) sugar
450 g (1 pound) of sugar to every 600 ml (2 1/2 cup) of liquid

Roughly chop the fruit – be careful, it’s rock hard. Put it in a large pan together with the star anise and cover with water – I used 2 liters. Cook until the fruit falls apart, which takes about an hour and a half. Mash with a potato masher and pour into a colander lined with cheesecloth. Tie the cheesecloth together and suspend it over a large pan (see photo). Let it drip overnight and don’t be tempted to squeeze the cloth or the jelly will be cloudy. This amount yielded 1,5 liters of liquid. Bring the liquid to boil and add the Marmello mixed with sugar. Boil for 1 minute and pour into sterilized jars. Turn the jars upside down for ten minutes. The jelly will keep for about a year. Once open, store in the refrigerator and use within a week.

 If making the jelly with just sugar:
Prepare the quince as directed above.
Bring the strained liquid to the boil, than add sugar and stir to dissolve it. Boil rapidly until the jam reaches setting point. This you can test by putting a teaspoonful of the jam on a cold saucer (I keep it in the fridge) and leaving it to cool. If the jam wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it’s ready. In my case the jam took about half an hour to reach the setting point. Remove any scum that has formed.

Carefully pour the jam into the jars, close them and turn the jars upside down for ten minutes.


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12 comments for “Japanese quince jelly with star anise

  1. Javad
    02/01/2020 at 16:01

    Hi dear Vera 🙂
    Happy new year!
    Im from Iran and my name is Javad.
    Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  2. Greg
    18/09/2016 at 15:22

    You shouldn’t need pectin at all for quince jelly. I never use it for my Japanese quince and it sets beautifully. Quince has a high amount of its own pectin

    • vera@gtc
      19/09/2016 at 10:26

      That’s true and I also give instructions for making the jelly without pectine. The difference is that you need more sugar and it needs to be cooked significantly longer if you do not use pectine.

  3. 15/10/2015 at 23:21

    Hi and thankyou for your wonderful recipe!
    This is the first year our Japanese quince bush produced fruit, we managed to get just over 2kg, and I googled what to do with it and your post came up!
    I didn’t have any star anise so I went without, did the draining in a muslin cloth overnight and completed the process this evening by boiling the heck out of the lovely clear liquid with a tonne of sugar in it.
    Did the cold plate trick, worked a charm, and came out with 7 x 8oz jars of jewel like gorgeousness.
    Thanks again, very helpful post.

    • vera@gtc
      16/10/2015 at 08:41

      Hi Ella, thank you for your feedback. I am glad the recipe worked for you and that you got to use your first harvest of Japanese quince!

  4. Lowell Angell
    02/09/2015 at 05:28

    Hi Vera, We have a Japanese quince by the back door. This year it gave us more fruit than ever before. I haven’t seen any star anise in the stores yet this summer, so I used your recipe to make jelly just using the quince. It gave me four 16 ounce jars of jelly. I sampled some of the foam that skimmed off and it tastes lemony and sweet.
    I used an equal amount of a sugar substitute (sucralose) because my wife is a diabetic and I treasure my remaining teeth.
    Three jars sealed when I turned tham back up, The fourth we will use this week.
    I love the color, it has the same color that you show in the pictures. My quince fruit was mostly green with white spots, some had started to yellow. They don’t get a lot of sun where they are, because they are in the shade of an apple tree.
    Thank you very much for the recipe. I am sure we will deeply appreciate this unique jelly this winter.
    Sincerely, Lowell

    • Lowell Angell
      03/09/2015 at 05:24

      Ah, I had to redo the batch because the pectin I used only works with sugar. It won’t work with sucralose. I bought a pectin especially made for low sugar or no sugar. This time after I finished ladeling the hot mixture into the four jars, I noticed that some that remained had already set! Once again though, only 3 jars sealed so we will still be enjoying one of them next week.
      Sincerely, Lowell

      • vera@gtc
        04/09/2015 at 13:23

        Thank you, Lowell, for your feedback! I am glad it worked out in the end! I used to make jam with organic pectine plus concentrated apple juice as a sweetener to avoid using sugar, but I suppose that is not an option either if your wife is a diabetic. I hope you will enjoy the jelly – it is so nice to be able to use this weird fruit for sometheing, is’n it? 🙂

  5. Ursula
    28/10/2013 at 17:43

    Dear Vera,

    First of all, thank you for sharing your beautiful and awe-inspiring recipes.
    I have surpringly found a bush of this quince (“Japanse sierkwee”) in the backyard of my mother-in-law, which I recognized after visiting your website.
    I am eager to try this jam out, but before, would you clarify me how much marmello you mean by “2x” and by which name in Dutch I could look for “cheesecloth”?
    Thank you a lot and best wishes for new recipes!


    • vera@gtc
      30/10/2013 at 15:31

      Hi Ursula,
      Thank you for your kind words.
      I’m glad you want to try this recipe – it is a really nice jelly. For this amount of quince, you need two packets of Marmello (I will clarify that in the recipe). Cheesecloth is “kaasdoek” in Dutch, I bought mine at V&D. But a fine (metal) sieve would also work.
      Good luck with the recipe!

      • Ursula
        02/11/2013 at 21:05

        Hello, Vera!
        One last doubt! Sorry, I am a first-time shipper.
        Would you clarify when shall the star anise be added? I am afraid I should have included it with the quince while cooking, which unfortunately I have already cooked without it.
        Thank you in advance for clarifying!
        Best wishes,

        • vera@gtc
          03/11/2013 at 13:40

          Sorry Ursula for not being clear! Yes, the star anise should be added when cooking the quince. However, it is perfectly okay to make the jelly without it. Just proceed according to the recipe.

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