Fruits of toil


A friend gave me some quinces earlier this week, from her garden in Kent. I love them, but they daunt me. They’re unbelievably hard to peel and core, and they have to be cooked for hours, but they are delicious: pleasure/pain in one handy, scary, medieval fruit.

The best known, er, quince-delivery systems are jelly or paste (Spanish membrillo). Jelly means stewing the unbelievably-hard-to-peel-and-core fruit for ages, buying/making a jelly bag, filling it with the hot fruit and hanging it up to drip, probably for days. Perhaps the toughest part of that (apart from not kicking over the bowl positioned awkwardly to collect the liquor) is resisting the temptation to squeeze the huge, round, breasty thing to hurry the juice through. You must never squeeze a jelly bag, never never never. Otherwise you’ll get – you might want to sit down for this –  cloudy jelly. Cloudy jelly? The horror! The Jam Laws are unambiguous on this: cloudy jelly is an ABOMINATION and you will be SHUNNED by your community for it. Quite right too, imo.

The other form is quince paste. Having downloaded a recipe from dinternet yesterday, I thought it all looked pretty plain sailing. I think this every year, before quailing at the last minute. Quinces, sugar, vanilla (yuk, ditch that), water, a pan. Yup, yup, yup. Wait. A food processor. Shit. That’s why I never make it. But this year (I thought) will be different.

Determined to turn around years of failure, on my way home I called into Argos and bought a food processor. Bargain! A Kenwood, marked down from £80 to £35! (They’re clearing stock for Christmas, kids. Hurry now.) Having established online that they had some special deals, I asked the assistant, who seemed taken aback to hear these tidings. He clicked about for a bit and then said chidingly, ‘We only have two left.’ My turn to look baffled. Righto then sonny, out of a sense of altruism I’ll just take the one. WTF?

Home  was a struggle, with the cumbersome box, because after a trip to Argos I always think it’s not that far. And my arms are always shaking, neck always bunched within two minutes. Happened again last night. Oh Christ, I haven’t even got to Fitness First yet. Lidl is a yellow and navy mirage. The traffic lights by the station are halfway to Samarkand.

Once home I reread the recipe and realised the food processy bit is only a third of the way into the project. It takes SO MUCH COOKING, I’d have been up all night. Change of plan – stewed quince it is. Again. With ice cream. Yum.


One Response to “Fruits of toil”

  1. 1 Ironemu


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