hats off to caludia roden, whose love for food has inspired us time and again. this is her recipe, insofar as any ancient method for preserving fruit can be said to belong to anyone.
*12/30/2011 - edit: i have successfully used this recipe with rapadura instead of cane sugar, reducing the amount to 1 1/2 cups. the color is darker but the flavor is deeper, a low musky note to balance out the high floral quality. if you are looking to make a gorgeous rose colored preserve, keep to the cane sugar.
3-4 cups cane sugar
1/2 lemon (juiced)
5-8 1/2 pint mason jars
Begin by washing the quince to remove the gray fuzzy coating that covers the fruit. then cut the quince into halves or smaller and arrange them in the bottom of a pan. no need to core them or remove the seeds: the seeds provide the pectin effect of making the jelly. add just enough water to cover them. they will float- so add enough water that they begin to float and would be covered if they weren't floating. add the lemon juice, then bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 min or so. the more you cook them, the more pink and soft they will be. you can cook them at this stage for as little as 2o min and as much as 45.
Turn off the heat, remove the quince, and let them cool. keep the water in the pan, you need it for the next step. once the quince are cool, core them and remove the skin. now slice them into whatever form you want for your preserve: some people like big chunks and others want the pieces very small. add the sugar to the remaining water, bring to a boil and then simmer until the water thickens: you will see the water become thick and viscous as you stir it. 10 or 15 minutes on low heat should do it.
Now add the quince pieces and cook for another 20 or 30 minutes. by now the preserve is looking very thick and you have been licking the spoon with greater frequency. you are done- pour the preserves into your jelly jars, leaving a little room at the top. screw the lids on tight and flip over for a few minutes, then right them (lids up) and let cool. the flipping allows the lid to seal. store them in your refrigerator.