- A thing to eat on bread

Makes about 3 cups spread.

This is a thick spread with a texture rather like chunky apple butter. While easy and containing few ingredients, it does take a long time to cook. Make it when you are hanging out in the kitchen doing other things, and the honeyed aroma will compensate you for the wait.

Additional needs
  • 1 heavy bottomed pot that holds at least 4 quarts, with a tight-fitting cover, preferably enamel or other non-reactive lining. I use an enameled cast-iron pot to very good effect.
  • Something heat resistant with which to stir. A wooden spoon with a flat tip or paddle, or heat resistant rubber spatula is ideal.

Place the ingredients into the pot and bring them to a simmer uncovered over medium high heat. Give it a good stir and then cover tightly and continue simmering on medium heat until the fruit has thoroughly broken down and turned a rich golden orange/pink. Stir frequently, scraping the bottom, to prevent it from scorching, as it turns thick quickly. When almost done, let it cook uncovered for 2-5 minutes, stirring frequently, to evaporate any excess liquid.

Decant and can if desired. This spread is fantastic on crusty bread with butter or a soft ripened cheese. The lemon adds some flavor 'high' notes without overpowering the sweet, honey scented quince, and the apple smooths out the texture and gives it additional complexity.

Additional notes

Regarding the lemon zest; it is easiest to remove it with a potato peeler and then chop it small. This spread cooks for such a long time that the zest will lose much of its 'chew.' If you would like to preserve the texture, cut it into thin strips and add the zest about 20 minutes before you finish. I don't find this necessary as I like a smoother, almost silky jam, with only subtle differences in texture.

This will take at least 2 1/2 hours to cook. 3 hours is about average and 4 hours is possible depending on the amount of moisture in your fruit. For a darker color, cook it longer. To make this possible, increase the amount of liquid, reduce the sugar about 2 teaspoons, and add 1/2 cup additional cider.

Regarding apples; there are many to choose from and many cook up differently. When I made this this weekend, I used 3 Golden Delicious and 1 sad left-over Macoun, and 1/2 c. sugar. Here is a brief low-down on some varieties I’ve cooked with in the past, many of which should be available:

  • Golden Delicious is a good cooking apple, especially for tarts. It has a lot of body when cooked, and a more opaque golden color. It is sweet and fragrant, so easy on the sugar and spices.
  • Jonagold is a cross between the Golden Delicious and Jonathan apples, and is a fantastic baking apple. It has a rich, fragrant scent, and a good sweet/acid balance. Like the GD, it cooks up with a lot of body. It is also more yellow, and very thick in sauces. Again, easy on the sugar.
  • Gala or Royal Gala has a texture rather like a Golden Delicious when cooked. It is a little sweeter and less ‘apple-y’ than the GD, but a good apple in a pinch.
  • Granny Smith is everywhere and works well. It is another tart apple, but unlike the Macs, it has more body and takes longer to cook down. Better in pies, it cooks up pale and again lacking a bit of the ‘apple-y’ fragrance. Excellent when mixed with sweet apples to balance the acidity.
  • Macintosh is a good apple if you like thinner sauces. It is very juicy and breaks down quickly into a pale, translucent sauce. It tends to be a good balance of sweet tart.
  • Macoun is a fantastic fresh apple, and it is very tart. The Macoun cooks much like a Macintosh but you will probably need to add extra sugar.
  • Red Delicious is not a good cooking apple. Eat them fresh.