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).

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
or
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.

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4 comments for “Japanese quince jelly with star anise

  1. 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!

    Ursula

    • 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!
      Vera

      • 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,
        Ursula.

        • 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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