Thanksgiving, I see you! And I’m coming ready, with a delicious condiment. Tasting of the tart cranberries, honeyed floral quince, and ginger snap. Colored a most beautiful hue and smooth, spreading gorgeously on a whole grain bread, topped with turkey slices.
I think I might have stopped everything I was doing when these cranberry quince preserves appeared on my computer screen. Although Yossy of Apt 2 Baking Co. tends to do that. It started with apricot jam with saffron and rose, tweeted out by some blessed person [I forget who] who I follow. Right then, all other canning projects floating in my head stopped. [That was August, there was a lot up there.] I had to make that jam, right then. And I did, without the rose. It was spectacular.
Oh yes, the cranberry quince preserves. Something about the two fruit personalities mixing just seemed like perfection. A match made in heaven, maybe? Quince is so perfectly romantic, a sappy sweet flavor. And cranberries are, well, a bit crabby and tightly wound. A little heat, a little sugar, a bit of lemon zest and ginger and you get something fantastic. I threw a bit of apple in their to match the fruit ratios of the original recipe, but ended up dialing back on the sugar. Like, way back. When the pommes were tender and the cranberries popped, that lovely, glossy, syrupy thing that happened in Yossy’s preserves weren’t there for mine. It resembled a compote more than a jam.
But the flavor? Oh it was on point. Just sweet enough, cranberries still smacking your taste buds with tart attitude. So I just blitzed the heck out of it with my immersion blender. In the long run, whether the mixture was chunks of fruit in liquid or one smooth spread, it’s still something to gobbled down with joy. This just might be the perfect vehicle to introduce your friends, family or yourself to a new fruit. That ugly beast quince doesn’t seem so scary when it resembles spreadable cranberries! [Oh and can I mention how welcome that color was to my kitchen. I miss the sticky red mess that cherries, strawberries, raspberries would create during summer canning.]
This time of year is hectic for most. Even if you’re not hosting the dinner, many of us [especially the crazy food lovers like myself] like to cook ourselves into a frenzy. But if you can, sneak in time to make this spread. The whole thing comes together incredibly quick, especially for a jam. [Even my roommate, witness to my many crazy, time-intensive canning projects, remarked about how quickly it went from raw quince to burbling jam.] If you don’t feel like water-bath processing the jars, the quantity isn’t overwhelming. What’s not eaten at Thanksgiving dinner should be packed up with the leftovers you send people off with [or left at your host’s home].
cranberry quince spread
makes 28 ounces, or about 1.75 pints
- 14 ounces quince [about 3]
- 7 ounces [1 cup] granulated sugar
- 20 ounces [2.5 cups] water
- 1.5 ounce ginger [a 2
- 2 lemons
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 8 ounces [1/2 pound] cranberries, fresh or frozen
- 2 ounces tart apple [about 1/2 medium apple]
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Peel, quarter and core the quince. Slice each quarter into 1/2" slices, and then cut each slice in half. Repeat these steps for the apple.
- In a medium size, heavy pot, add the sugar and water and turn to medium high heat. Once the sugar dissolves, add the quince. Peel and grate the ginger. I like to grate directly into the pot, to catch all ginger juices. Zest one lemon and juice both lemons into the pot. Bring to a boil, lower to medium and cook until the quince are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Add the salt, cranberries and green apple and bring back to a boil. Stir often now, while the cranberries cook and pop. Once the fruit seems softened all around and the berries are popped, add the honey and stir to combine. Turn off the heat.
- Time to blend! Either use an immersion blender in the pot or transfer to a blender or food processor. Be careful to avoid splatter, this is hot! Once sufficiently smooth, taste. If you're happy with the sweet, tart balance, good! If not, swirl in some more honey, lemon juice or salt.
- Transfer to sterilized Ball jars and water-bath process for 10 minutes. Or transfer to a clean, heat-proof container and eat within 1-2 weeks.