Sunday Morning Garden Chat: “The Fruits of Our Labors”

marvel QuinceJuice
From faithful commentor Marvel:

Over this-away, we still have some ‘putting up’ to do.

I think I may have described before, the evolution of our kitchen practices as the harvest season opens and commences to barrel down upon us, e.g., the first few pounds of tomatoes are cleaned and staged for their lively Summer portraits, then skinned, seeded and slow-roasted to perfection before being lovingly ladled and canned for later consumption….but by early September, if I manage a quick rinse and rough chop of the little devils before tossing them unceremoniously in the freezer (for later, cruel processing), they’re lucky.

Well, now, before the heavy raking of leaves commences, I’ve found some time to finish up (OK: begin) the last of my pantry chores.

Today’s delight includes steaming about 15 pounds of fresh quince to produce the heady juice for a cardamom-spiced jelly we adore.

marvel QuinceTools

First up: Raw quince and the instruments of their destruction. (They suspect nothing.) Quince, as plucked, is not edible and is more like working with small wooden toys than actual, living fruit.

marvel QuincePieces

Midway through the mayhem and so far, no one’s had to call 911. (I sing them a cheerful song to keep their spirits up.)

marvel QuinceSteamed

The steamer loaded, now’s the next-to-best time: the kitchen’ll soon be warm & a little steamy and the whole house will smell DIVINE (raw or cooked, quince have a delightful aroma like a flowery combination of apples and pears).

Soon these three quarts of quince juice will fill many small jars with ruby-colored jelly, the likes of which must be tasted to be believed!

How could such gnarly-looking fruit produce such beautiful ruby juice???

***********
What’s going on in your gardens this week?






53 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    Wow, I’ve never seen that stuff!

  2. 2
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    I was just going to say I didn’t think I’d ever seen a quince before.

  3. 3
    ThresherK says:

    My introduction to quinces: We had tree that looked sorta like an apple tree in the way back of our garden when I was a kid. We also had pear trees.

    I can’t use the word horticulture in a sentence, but I thought the fruit and tree of pears and apples and this oddball item looked the same, so I tasted one when it looked fully ripened.

    Big mistake. Hilarity ensued.

  4. 4
    PurpleGirl says:

    I have heard of quince; I’ve not tasted the juice. They look weird. I will take Marvel’s word that that the juice is fantastic once processed and cooked. It sounds like he has the process down to a good and efficient routine. Enjoy!!!

  5. 5
    HRA says:

    Quince was the only jelly my Mom ever made. I have bought various jars of it as I see it and none of them come close to the homemade quince jelly. I finally found quince at a market here last year and tried making it. It was still missing something. I used it up on roasting meats.

  6. 6
    satby says:

    I would love to try that, no idea where I could find quince fruits though. I did one batch of apple butter and then put the rest of the apples out for the deer. I’m still working my way through last year’s canned bounty, and just wasn’t motivated to can more. Of course the utter failure of most of my crops may have had a lot to do with that too.

  7. 7
    satby says:

    I’m working on getting my Etsy shop updated with more seasonal holiday themed items. Setting up to photograph and upload the descriptions will take hours, but it sure was fun making the soaps and bath bombs!

  8. 8
    kdaug says:

    How could such gnarly-looking fruit produce such beautiful ruby juice???

    So many jokes, so little time.

  9. 9
    thruppence says:

    I’m leaving our garden, separating from my wife and our home and trying to find the unicorn of affordable housing in the San Francisco Bay Area. Most Craigslist ads want applicants younger, richer, and more female than I. Still, working people must live somewhere…

  10. 10
    La Caterina (Mrs. Johannes) says:

    Impressive! I, too, had no idea you could make such wonderful stuff with quince. Now I want to try some.

  11. 11
    satby says:

    @thruppence: :(
    Sorry to hear that, that’s tough.

  12. 12
    Amir Khalid says:

    @thruppence:
    Aw man, that’s hard. I hope you find a good place to live soon, and get at least that one weight off your shoulders.

  13. 13
    Elizabelle says:

    Always enjoy Marvel’s posts and photography.

    This one needs Odorama!

    I swiped two persimmons off a neighbor’s (overburdened) tree a few weeks ago. They are ripening nicely. Beautiful fruits.

    How do I know if they’re safe to eat? Can you have strictly ornamental persimmons? Will I be hurling and purging for a week for my theft?

  14. 14
    Cervantes says:

    @thruppence:

    Hang in there.

    Best wishes.

  15. 15
    Elizabelle says:

    @thruppence:

    Good luck to you, thruppence. Keep us posted.

  16. 16
    Cervantes says:

    @Elizabelle:

    If they are persimmons and they are fully ripe, they should be safe to eat — but you probably should not eat them on an empty stomach.

    Will I be hurling and purging for a week for my theft?

    If anything, the opposite.

  17. 17
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Elizabelle:
    I hear that if you partake of purloined fruit, you risk bursting into flames. But I don’t know, the person who told me that may have been kidding.

  18. 18
    raven says:

    I was just informed that WE have quince trees in the yard!

  19. 19
    Elizabelle says:

    @raven:

    I see your future.

    Bohdi’s Bodacious Quince Jelly

  20. 20
    raven says:

    @Elizabelle: Apparently we don’t have any quinces, just quince tree!

  21. 21
    Glidwrith says:

    Speaking of more exotic fruits: has anyone ever made jam from the strawberry tree? It has a taste that I can’t describe, but the Irish Baley’s Creme I used as part of the recipe probably had something to do with it.

  22. 22
    Botsplainer says:

    @Cervantes:

    Are those the damned things that make my tongue feels like it needs to be shaved?

  23. 23
    Amir Khalid says:

    @raven:
    Ouch. So close, and yet so far …

  24. 24
    beltane says:

    We planted a quince tree last year but it hasn’t fruited yet. I hope to be living someplace else before it does.

  25. 25
    beltane says:

    @Botsplainer: Persimmons are highly astringent.

  26. 26
    Cervantes says:

    @raven:

    Apparently we don’t have any quinces, just quince tree!

    Quince trees usually do not flower or bear fruit unless they’ve been through a fairly long cold season — and by “cold” I mean 8 °C or colder.

  27. 27
    raven says:

    @Cervantes: Aha, well we’ll just have to see I guess.

  28. 28
    Cervantes says:

    @beltane:
    @Botsplainer:

    Yes, some (but not all) persimmons can do that.

  29. 29
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    @thruppence: Sorry to hear that.

  30. 30
    max says:

    What’s going on in your gardens this week?

    Well, from the weather report, it looks like the polar vortex arrives on Thursday night and then it’s going to snow on my birthday. Fabulous. Going to be trucking everything inside the basement for the winter, looks like.

    Also, I got the new apple tree in the mail yesterday and I have to plant that.

    max
    [‘This should be fun.’]

  31. 31
    AliceBlue says:

    @Cervantes:
    A few weeks ago, Mr. AliceBlue made what he calls “persimmon marmalade.” It’s a beautiful, golden orangey color and tastes amazing. Our tree was absolutely overloaded this year, so much so that a lot of them went bad.

  32. 32
    geg6 says:

    Never tasted persimmon or quince. Maybe not native to Western PA, I’m guessing, or I’m sure I would have.

    Still loving “The Chair” on Showtime. Can’t believe more BJers aren’t watching this, what with all the film buffs here. Really fascinating look at how a small indie movie gets made by two completely different filmmakers from the same original script. The Pittsburgh angle is just a bonus, but very true to my city.

  33. 33
    Cervantes says:

    @AliceBlue:

    A few weeks ago, Mr. AliceBlue made what he calls “persimmon marmalade.” It’s a beautiful, golden orangey color and tastes amazing.

    “Persimmon marmalade”! Lucky you!

    Also: marmalade, which we now mostly make from citrus, was originally made out of and named after … quince.

  34. 34
    Stella B. says:

    @Cervantes: I had a quince in coastal San Diego. It did not get water and it was only a sprout from the rootstock of a dead pear, but it flowered and fruited. I would happily plant one at my current house, if I could my husband to let me sacrifice a few palms. Quince, besides producing amazing fruit, have crazy flowers. The flowers are shaped like a pear or an apple, but instead of being 3/4 inch across, they are more like 2 inches.

    For the last two weeks I’ve been cruising the weird fruit section of the grocery store where I found quince last year. Still no luck, but I did find bergamots.

  35. 35
    satby says:

    @max: Don’t forget to wrap it (in cloth like burlap, not plastic) or put a tree tube over it!

  36. 36
    Violet says:

    Wow! That is fabulous! Thanks so much for the info and the gorgeous pictures. It does look like you would survive a Republican countertop inspection, as well!

    It’s gorgeous here today so after working on my course for a bit this morning while waiting for it to warm up a little, I’ll be spending the rest of the day in the garden. It needs attention, so I’m glad I can finally get out there.

  37. 37
    satby says:

    And another thing I have to remember to get to today is piling the leaves over my bare clay in the front yard, wetting them all down, and then tarping over the entire pile for winter so that they compost a bit. With luck I may have enough composted by spring to plant some grass. but with tarp secured over the clay, at least the dogs will stop tracking in loads of clay whenever it’s wet outside. Because I have to get to that before the ground gets too hard for the stakes to go in.

  38. 38
    dexwood says:

    Before we lost our quince tree to age and drought, I used to carve faces in the fruit and let them dry, much like the dried apple faces sometimes used in home made dolls. They work just as well.

  39. 39
    shelley says:

    Anne, when you make your jelly, what’s your sugar to juice ratio? Do they have enough natural pectin?

  40. 40
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @max: Our foot of snow starts tonight thru the middle of Tuesday.

  41. 41
    Tommy says:

    @max: I got no garden stuff. It went from kind of warm to cold in a week. Below freezing most days. I guess that is November in the midwest. The only happy thing is I bought a lot of house plants in the last year. I am famous for killing any plant in my house. Bought plants from this lady at my local farmers market. Told her how I killed plants. She listened and told me how to care for her plants. Actually came to my house. Now they are thriving. Lots of plants. Couldn’t be happier.

  42. 42
    Marvel says:

    @shelley: Shelley, there’s plenty of pectin in the fruit (especially since the juice is produced using the whole fruit — seeds, core & clean skin included). I usually cook small jelly batches (4-5 half-pints) using 3C sugar, 3C quince juice plus 6T of lemon juice (which somehow activates the pectin).

  43. 43
    ruemara says:

    I love quince jam but I haven’t had it in 30 years. Very lucky and everything looks fantastic.

    Good luck, thruppence. I know what that’s like.

  44. 44
    max says:

    @Howard Beale IV: Our foot of snow starts tonight thru the middle of Tuesday.

    My condolences.

    @satby: Don’t forget to wrap it (in cloth like burlap, not plastic) or put a tree tube over it!

    Oh, boy. Do I need to do that? Ugh. OK, more reading. (Since I am now temporarily back inside from trenching duty.)

    max
    [‘And I need to mow all the goddamn leaves today.’]

  45. 45
    max says:

    @Tommy: The only happy thing is I bought a lot of house plants in the last year. I am famous for killing any plant in my house. Bought plants from this lady at my local farmers market. Told her how I killed plants. She listened and told me how to care for her plants. Actually came to my house. Now they are thriving. Lots of plants. Couldn’t be happier.

    Water. The first and the worst is drying out over winter or just drying out anytime. The second worst is lack of light.

    max
    [‘The cats like to sleep in my fern.’]

  46. 46
    J R in WV says:

    Persimmon is native in WVa, so must be possible in Western PA. Climate in WV highlands is Canadian boreal, so regular mountains should be very much like PA.

    My Grandma’s little minifarm had a native persimmon tree on one property line, but the fruit was small and never seemed to be ripe, even after a frost, which is supposed to be what ripens and removes the astringency from the fruits.

    We have them on our farm, along with hawthorne, which is a spiney crabapple type of tree, I have not seen fruit on them, but haven’t looked hard either. Google says there are stories about hawthorne fruit and potions of some sort, supposed to be a cardio aid…

  47. 47
    jayjaybear says:

    @max: Except when the worst is sitting in water constantly because the owner was afraid of underwatering. I’m guessing more houseplants die of root rot than of underwatering. The temptation is huge if you’re not an experienced plant-carer.

    There is no idea schedule for watering. Generally, if you can put a finger to the first knuckle into the soil and remove it dry, it’s time to water. Water until it starts to come out the bottom. Dump whatever’s in the saucer underneath after about 10 minutes.

    Some groups of plants have their own idiosyncratic water needs (cacti and succulents, for example, and actual marsh plants like papyrus, at opposite ends of the spectrum) but the majority are fine with that watering rule.

  48. 48
    Interrobang says:

    I ate a raw quince once. I thought it was tasty, if a little hard. I didn’t realise you were supposed to cook them first. I don’t recall having any ill effects from it.

    The Sharon cultivar of persimmons is absolutely delicious, and you can eat them right down to the calyx.

  49. 49
    22over7 says:

    All these comments, and not one mention of a runcible spoon?

  50. 50
    Marvel says:

    @22over7: They dined on mince and slices of quince, which they ate with a runcible spoon. (Hadda look it up.)

  51. 51
    PIGL says:

    Would faithful commenter Marvel consider sharing the recipe? Because we loves quince. It’s the season on the west coast, and I like to make a compote of a few for a nice snack or luxy breakfast, although they take some cooking. But the jelly sounds to die for.

    I remember finding my first Quince bush growing in North Burnaby many many moons ago, shortly after moving there in 1983. It took some looking up, in those pre-internet days.

  52. 52
    Marvel says:

    @PIGL: Sure thing, PIGL. To make the juice, I use a steamer/juicer contraption into which I’ve added several pounds of chopped up quince, a whole vanilla bean, a cup of sugar, a stick of cinnamon, six cardamom pods, a dozen whole cloves & a couple of star anise. The steamer produces about 3 quarts of juice. I make small batches of jelly using 3C sugar, 3C quince juice, 6T of lemon juice and a single cardamom pod. I end up processing 4-5 half-pint jars in a water bath for ten minutes.

  53. 53
    sempronia says:

    There are two kinds of persimmons (well, there are lots and lots), or rather two major classes – sweet and astringent. The sweet ones (Sharon or Fuyu are common in markets here) can be eaten even if they’re firm. Personally I prefer them a little soft, but you don’t have to wait until then. The astringent ones, like Hachiya, are acorn-shaped and will fur up your tongue of you try to eat them before they’re squishy, like a water balloon. Eat them with a spoon – super sweet and delicious. Putting them in the freezer takes some of the astringency away but also a lot of the sweetness. Mmmm, delicious…

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