The quince supply on my neighborhood trees is long gone, but there are a few in the stores — I found some Orange quince recently. They make a tender but mild jam, so I cooked them with apples and rosemary to punch up the flavor. The fragrant and sometimes deliciously heady aroma is one of the best things about quince jams and jellies, so this milder fruit seemed doubly suited to the coarser texture of butter. Don’t do what I did and not bother to remove the seeds before grinding the fruit; you’ll be picking out seeds one… by… one.
Don’t have a food mill? Well, why would you? I didn’t have one until I decided to try making fruit butters. Try this variation on the recipe below: Peel and core the fruit before chopping into rough chunks. Reserve the peel and core and place in a cheesecloth bag. Tie the ends of the bag around the pot handle so that the bag sits in the fruit and liquid. Instead of using the food mill, grind cooked fruit (not peel and cores) in a food processor or blender.
You can make a bag too: tie the peel and cores in a square of cheesecloth, which is available at pretty much any supermarket.
Quince & Rosemary Apple Butter
3 pounds Orange quince
1 pound Spitzenberg apples
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup water
2 x 8-inch sprigs fresh rosemary
About one pound white sugar
Chop apples and quince coarsely, including seeds, cores and skins, and bring to a boil with wine, water, lemon juice, and one sprig rosemary. Simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the fruit is soft enough to squash with a fork.
Transfer to a non-metallic container and refrigerate overnight.
Chop out the seed-filled portion on the quince core and remove what apple and lemon seeds you can.
Grind pulp through a food mill. Don’t complain. This part is what helps distinguishes fruit butter from a fancy apple sauce!
Weigh pulp, and warm half that weight in sugar in a ovenproof dish at 350′F for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, return fruit to pot and bring to a simmer. But first, either throw the second sprig of rosemary into the fruit pulp or tie it in a bouquet garni bag and attach the bag to the pot handle so it sits in the fruit.
Tip warmed sugar into fruit pulp, stir until dissolved, and cook at a firm simmer to gentle boil for about 20 minutes, or until fruit butter looks glassy and liquid no longer pools in the mixture. Stir frequently to avoid burning. If you are using the bouquet garni bag, occasionally press the bag into the fruit as it cooks to release the herb oils into the cooking fruit butter.
Pour into sterilized jars, seal, and can in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.