April 16, 2021
One of the things that guests regularly comment on during their stays with us is the array of lodge-made jams and preserves that are always presented as part of the breakfast selection. As a general rule, there are usually six or seven flavours, running the gamut from the tried-and-true Seville orange marmalade (made with Seville oranges that we get sent down from Tauranga), to our ever-popular “Complicated Strawberry Preserves” (so called by James 2 because the recipe is very precise, not because it has a lot of complicated ingredients) and a huge range in between. But one flavour that almost always elicits requests for the recipe is the evocatively-named Paradise Marmalade. The base recipe is from a wonderful book, The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, by Rachel Saunders, and according to the description, “paradise” refers to a classic combination of quince, apple and cranberry. We don’t grow cranberries in our garden, however, so I have taken to replacing the cranberries with redcurrant, which we grow in profusion, meaning that this recipe is made with 100% lodge-grown fruit. If you happen to have cranberries available, by all means use them in this recipe, but either way the result is absolutely delectable.
- 170 grams quinces, peeled and cored
- 1670 grams granulated sugar
- 700 grams crisp tart apples, quartered and left unpeeled
- 700 grams whole quinces, cut into eighths
- 700 grams redcurrants
- 300 millilitres strained lemon juice
- 30-60 millilitres Calvados or quince brandy (optional)
First, prepare the quince shreds: Using a sharp knife, slice the peeled quinces very thinly, then cut into small matchsticks. Combine the shreds with the sugar in a wide stainless-steel kettle or sauté pan. Add 2 inches (5 cm) of water and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then partially cover and decrease the heat to a simmer. Cook, without stirring, until the liquid has turned a rosy-tawny color and the quince shreds are translucent, 2-½ to 3 hours. While the mixture cooks, check it every 20 minutes or so; if it starts bubbling a lot or looking too syrupy, add a little boiling water to thin it out. When the quince has finished cooking, cover it and let rest at room temperature overnight.
Meanwhile, prepare the mixed-fruit juice: Place the quartered apples, quince eighths, and redcurrants in a medium stainless-steel kettle and add enough cold water for the fruit to bob freely. Bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to a lively simmer. Cook the fruit, covered, for 1 hour or longer, until the apples are disintegrating and the liquid has thickened to a slightly syrupy consistency.
As the fruit cooks, stir it gently every 20 minutes or so, adding a little more water if necessary. The water level should stay consistently high enough for the fruit to remain submerged as it cooks. Strain the apple-quince-redcurrant juice by pouring the fruit into a medium-fine-mesh strainer suspended over a heatproof storage container or nonreactive saucepan. Cover the entire setup well with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to drip overnight.
Remove the mixed fruit and its juice from the refrigerator and discard the fruit. Strain the juice well through a very fine-mesh strainer to remove any lingering solids.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked juice with the quince shreds and their liquid. Stir in the lemon juice and liqueur (if using). Transfer the mixture to an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide non-reactive kettle.
Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat and boil vigorously, skimming off any surface scum with a stainless-steel spoon. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the bubbles become smaller, the jelly has acquired a glossier look, and the color has darkened slightly. Depending upon how viscous your initial juice was, this could take anywhere from 25 minutes to 1 hour. At this point, test the marmalade for doneness.
To test, carefully transfer a small representative half-spoonful of marmalade to one of your frozen spoons. Replace the spoon in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. Nudge the marmalade gently with your finger; if it has formed a cohesive jelly, it is either done or nearly done. Tilt the spoon vertically to see whether the marmalade runs; if it does not run, and if it has thickened to a semisolid consistency, it is done. If it runs, cook it for another minute or two, stirring, and test again as needed.
Using a stainless-steel spoon, skim any remaining foam from the surface of the marmalade. Pour immediately into sterilized jars and process according to your preferred method.