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Paradise Marmalade

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)

Day One:

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.

Day Two:

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.