Il tempo delle mele (cotogne)

image8“Il tempo delle mele”, literally “the time of apples”, is the Italian title given to the 1980 French comedy film directed by Claude Pinoteau and starring Sophie Marceau, making her debut in cinemas. I recently discovered that the French title of the movie is “La Boum”, which is the party of the year, that the French teenager main character Vic would do anything to attend, despite her parents disagreement. But for me, the movie will always go with the name “Il tempo delle mele”. If you have not seen it, this is definitely a must you should discover!

I came to think of all this, because the actual time of apples has finally come around here, along with the first falling leaves. Among all the beautiful things that you can do in Autumn, preparing homemade jam to ensure the stock is full for winter is definitely one of the most exciting! I found a nice tree of quince in the Austrian country cydonia_oblonga_-_kohler-s_medizinal-pflanzen-049side and collected some, with the plan to make some delicious quince jam. In Italian we call quince “mela cotogna”, as it is considered a variation of apple. But they really look like something between and apple and a pear. These fruits are definitely not nice to eat raw, they are very acidic and quite hard. But they are really the perfect fruit for making jam, jellies and special sauces to go with meat or cheeses. There are so many things that you can make with them! Today I would like to share with you the recipe for quince jam. You can follow this recipe to make jam with any other fruit that you might have in your garden.

– 1 kg quince
– 600 gr sugar
– 2 lemons
If you have more than 1 kilo, lucky you! Simply double the quantities that I indicated.

Before you start, I have some great news for you: you do NOT need to peel the apples.
*Ah! Sight of relief!*
Imagine all the things you can do in the time you saved by not peeling all those quinces. Not only do you not need to do it, but you shouldn’t! The peel of apples, and quince in particular, contains a lot of pectin, which is the gelling agent necessary to give jam the consistency that we know. Many jams that you find at the supermarket may contain chemical agents used instead of natural pectin to thicken and stabilize the final product. So one of the greatest advantages of making your own jam is that you will avoid all those added products, which are not good for our bodies (and those of your children!). My mum’s special trick, for all jams, is to add a little bit of apple for this reason precisely – in a strawberry jam, for example, she would add some pieces of apple to add natural pectin and make it thicken.

Start by cutting the quince in small pieces and just throw away the core. Place them in a bowl with water and the juice of the 2 lemons, to prevent them from becoming black.

Place the quince and the sugar in a large pot and let them cook on a low heat for about half an hour, stirring them every now and then, so ensure that they cook evenly and that the sugar is well mixed. As the fruit warms up, it will start filling your kitchen with a lovely, sweet smell. Another little secret about apple and quince is that this fruit will never lose its shape completely by itself, as other fruits, such as strawberries and apricots, do. So when the fruit starts to become tender, it releases water and starts a very gentle boil, this is the time to get your immersion blender. I know that it sounds like cheating, but I promise, it is not! Use the blender for for 1/2 minutes to make it become a puree. If, like me,  you like to have some pieces of fruit in your jam, do not destroy all the pieces completely. This process is very personal, so the 1/2 minutes are a very general indication, trust your gut!

Now keep cooking on a low heat for 30/45 minutes, until it thickens enough that, when you put a drop on a little dish and you make it run down, it makes a line of circa 4 cm and then stops. Quince jam thickens up a little also after cooking, so it’s better to keep it more liquid than the other way around.

All you have to do now is putting the jam in the jars (fill them up leaving half a cm of space).

A little note regarding the jars: you can use new ones, with new lids (for example, in Italy the brand “Bormioli-Quattro Stagioni” is very well known). You will then be able to re-use the jars, and you will only need to buy the new lids. Alternatively, you can recycle old jars, which is what I did in this case. Before using them, it is important to sterilize them. The process is very simple: place the jars in a large pot, putting a hand towel between them and bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat and keep cooking for 20 minutes. Then throw in the lids and keep cooking for 10 minutes. Take them out of the pot and let them dry. Important: make sure to do this some hours before, or the night before, as the jars need to be completely dry when you fill them.

Once you have filled the jars, put the lid and let them rest upside down for one night, in order for the lid to seal. Another way of sealing them, is placing them in a pot completely covered with water and bring them to a boil. You choose.

Voilà! You are done and stoked up for winter!






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