Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The perfect present.

I've written before about jam; a high contender for my last meal on earth would be fresh croissants with blackberry preserve. Jam is a small delight each morning; a taste of sunshine; a moment's pleasure before the drudgery of the drive to work;... ok, ok, you know I like jam.

So how wonderful that my new garden has a prolific quince bush. And even better that my mother had time on her hands to transform them to jelly.

Does jelly count as jam? Daniel asked, after she brought the jars round. Or is it a type of marmalade?

There's no time for classifications, I told him -  get the muffins in the toaster!

It was years since I'd tasted quince jelly, but worth the wait. I'd forgotten the slight tartness that follows the sweet bite, and the pleasingly wobbly quality of a dollop on bread.

Why is it red, Daniel asked?

Who cares - put some more of those muffins on will you.

My mother says I am impossible to buy presents for. She has laboured for years to find the perfect gift, too often seeking inspiration in the Sunday supplements. Part of the trouble is the looks I get from Jane when I open her presents, making it clear that I'm to keep any ironic laughter in check. The result is the unwanted gifts continue and the charity shops do well with 'as new' donations.

More recently, she has focused her giving around consumables. This is a good development, but there's still the risk of a too inventive trip to the delicatessen. The other year she had a thing about Kendal Mint Cake - often gift wrapping it with a pot of lump fish caviar...?

So Quince Jelly seems the perfect answer. It takes ages to create (lots of straining evidently) and therefore feels like a special gift to those who make it - and I genuinely appreciate both the effort and the end product.

Last week, my mother asked if I would like a gift for the new house. I refused; couldn't think of anything to be honest. But then I noticed some more windfall quinces...

 More Jelly? Was I sure it was all I wanted? she asked.


After all, jam is food of the Gods; a taste of sunshine in the morning; a contender for last meal on earth...

Lovely - but why the funny cloth lids?


  1. I used to steal quinces from front gardens in Bristol in the dead of night to make this. Very good with game or cheese as well as muffins.

    Those frilly caps have a special function, but this is a secret known only to their creators.

  2. One of my favourites...and I used to put a bowl of the fruit in the kitchen, where it was warm, to enjoy the smell of them.

  3. I've never eaten quince but I know the Owl and the Pussycat dined on it. Your mother is an absolute sweetheart, wanting to please you like that. I hope you buy her a big tin of Quality Street. ;-)

  4. A friend gave me a dish of what he called quince cheese, in exchange for a tray of plants. It has the consistency and approximate colour of the topping of a treacle tart, and you eat it with cheese. It goes especially well with Cheddar.

  5. Hmmm last meal on earth?.....Johnny Depp dipped in chocolate?

  6. So pleased it didn't disappoint. Often when we have something that we've not tasted in a while, it's not as we remember. It was this way with me and greengages. Such a let down, not as I remembered, or maybe my taste buds are jaded.

  7. We love our jams too and always try to buy locally. Nigel (Mr.H.) wants to make his own jams and I hope he gets to do that before the whole of the kitchen windowsill gets taken over by empty jam jars...

    Hope the house move is going well and that your internet is OK. :)

    NB: Word Verification: panes (apt!)