By Sarah B. Hood

The quince is apparently native to Persia (modern Iran), and is very high in pectin. Quince and apple preserves have been appreciated in Persia since at least the fourth century, when a literary character (a prince in disguise) names them as the best of desserts. Quince was the essential marmalade fruit before oranges. This quince butter has a very tart and tangy flavour.

Makes 4½ cups
3 ½ pounds quinces
4 cups water
4 ½ cups granulated sugar
3 tbsp lime juice
½ tsp ground cardamom (the seeds from 8 pods, finely ground)
Sterilize four 250mL jars and warm lids.

Wash the quinces, quarter them, and remove the seeds and stems (don’t worry about removing the hard shell that encases the seeds). In a wide, deep non-reactive pot with a thick bottom, combine quinces and water. Boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until the mixture resembles the consistency of pea soup, about 25 minutes.

Run the mixture through a sieve or food mill and return it to the pot. And the sugar, lime juice and cardamom, stirring well until the sugar dissolves completely. Boil on medium heat until the mixture thickens to the point where you can draw a spoon through it without seeing liquid seep from the sides, 30 to 45 minutes. The mixture should turn quite dark red or red-brown. (Be very careful, because it will spit a lot while boiling. If you have glasses, wear them; long sleeves and an apron are also a good idea.)

Ladle into sterilized jars, leaving ½-inch (1cm) of headspace. Seal with warm lids and process for 10 minutes at a rolling boil.

Remove the canner lid, turn off the heat, and allow the jars to sit in the hot water for another 5 minutes to cool down.

From We Sure Can! How Jams and Pickles are Reviving the Lure and Lore of Local Food, by Sarah B. Hood. © 2011, Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher.