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Pâte de Coing or Quince Fruit Jelly

November has brought another fruit which can not be eaten raw but which signals the preparations for Christmas. It looks like a big pear and when cooked turns a beautiful colour, semi pink or light brown. I am making Quince Jelly. This is one of the 13 traditional desserts in Provence and its origin is probably found in the fact that the fruit was ripe in November and it was cheap to make another simple dessert for the Big Supper of Christmas Eve. It remains a delicacy and the aroma of the cooking quince fills the kitchen with childhood memories. Rather than preserving the fruit by making jam, this is another way of enjoying it. In spite of the sugar needed, it is very healthy as it does not contain any colouring or preservative. In Spain it is served with strong cheeses to create a balance of savours. You need: 1 quince Juice of 1 lemon Preserving sugar A pressure cooker ( if you don’t have one, use a saucepan but it will take much longer to cook the fruit as it has a dense flesh). 1. Rinse and peel the quince. Core and quarter it and put it in a pressure cooker with just enough water to cover it. Quince vary in size and it is difficult to say exactly how much water will be needed. 2. After 5 minutes under pressure, the fruit should be soft enough. Open the pressure cooker and check. If you cook it in a saucepan, it may take up to 40 minutes. 3. Whizz with a liquidizer and measure the mixture in a measuring jug. For 500 ml of mixture add 500g of sugar. The quantity of sugar has to be equal to the quantity of fruit mixture. 4. Put the mixture in the pressure cooker without the lid or in a jam making pan and add the lemon juice. 5. Bring to a fast boil for 6 or 7 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. 6. Check that setting point is reached and pour in a large Pyrex dish, making sure that the thickness of the jelly does not exceed 2 cms. Let it cool and leave in the fridge for 2 days. Then, remove it delicately and place it on greaseproof paper to dry in a cool, dark place. The longer you leave it to dry, the firmer the “pâte” will be. Turn the quince fruit jelly every 2 days to allow even drying. 7. Cut it into thick fingers or lozenges and cover with caster sugar. 8. Keep it in a biscuit tin until Christmas Eve or before if you can not resist eating it. Enjoy!

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