A bounty of quince and just days to use them all up. First up, playing with the tried-and-true quince jam recipe from Barossa Food by Angela Heuzenroeder. The bay leaf adds depth to the heavily sweetened quince.
Wash and rub the fuzz from four large quince, place quince in a 4-quart pot and fill with water until just covered.
Cook until quince are soft and skin tender, anything from 15 to 30 minutes. Remove quince from water with a slotted spoon and cool. Leave water in the pot to cool. When cool, pour water into a large bowl.
When cool enough to handle, carefully peel the quince, trying to remove only the papery outermost layer of skin, rather than the 2-3mm layer that may have split around the quince and separated from the fruit. Reserve as many of these thicker skins as possible and carefully scrape the flesh from them. Reserve the cores.
Chop the quince into thick slices, avoiding the core and cut into chunks, removing any grainy pieces (they will have hard white flecks in them) and hard brown flecks.
Weigh chopped quince and pulp scrapings. You should have something around a pound (maybe less, depending on the white and brown flecks). Tip fruit into bowl with the quince water. Again, measure the liquid volume of the fruit and water together. You should have about 5 cups of water and fruit combined.
Tip 4.75-5 cups white sugar into the fruit and stir until somewhat dissolved. Cover with a plate and rest in the fridge overnight.
The next day, pour the fruit and water and scrape all the sugar into a large, wide, shallow pot. Stuff as many cores as you can (likely 3) into a small herb steeping bag and lay bag along bottom of pot, and tie the bag strings loosely to the handle, away from the heat.
Bring to a vigorous boil, stirring to dissolve all the sugar. Lower the heat to medium and keep at a boil, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. The fruit will be a golden yellow color. Simmer a further 10 minutes or so and then cover the pot and continue to simmer on low heat until the fruit has turned a rich pink and the syrup has thickened sufficiently to barely pass the wrinkle test, around 30-40 minutes. (If the hot jam passes the wrinkle test with flying colors, it will be a stiff paste when cold.)
During the last 10 minutes of cooking — when the fruit is a deep pink but has not yet passed the wrinkle test — crush slightly and add a dried California bay laurel to the simmering jam. Remove leaf from pot as you prepare to ladle the jam into jars.
Ladle jam into clean, sterilized jars, wipe rims with a hot, clean cloth or paper towel and cover with sterilized lids and rings. Close lids and rings finger-tight, can for 10 minutes on a rolling water bath, then carefully remove jars and set aside to allow them to seal.