My heartbreak started with the membrillo. I used the same recipe I had used before, but ignored the writer's note that sugar helps the membrillo carmelize. No problem, I thought. I don't have a food mill, so decided that instead of taking the laborious task of chopping the quince by hand (quince is a very stubborn and hard fruit and difficult to chop), I'd run it through the food processor. The mixture was a paste by the time I finished pulverizing it. Was it a good idea to take this short cut? Hard to say now -- it may have worked fine had I not reduced the sugar by half. I cooked it and cooked it, standing over the stove with my wooden spoon, imploring it to firm up. Finally, after nearly an hour, I spread it into a pan and hoped for the best. The next morning, I cautiously lifted the plastic wrap and peeked under -- blah. Failure. The membrillo lacked the amber jewel color of the last batch I made a few years back -- this time it was a sad mustard color -- and there was no satisfying gelatinous tooth. I pitched it.
I'll have more success with the jelly, I thought to myself. Quince have so much pectin -- maybe I don't need so much sugar!
One thing I have to say about quince -- you don't waste a thing. You use the flesh for the membrillo and the peels, cores and seeds for the jelly. So, the next evening I came home from work, wrapped my hair in a bandana and got to work. Again, reducing the sugar, but this time, only by two ounces. In the pot, the mixture looked promising. It had that gorgeous jewel color I love and it had a nice shoulder when I did my plate test. I canned and water bathed it, and went to bed, but didn't sleep well. I dreamt about quince and jelly and in my dream I kept opening jar after jar of jelly, biting my lip as I pressed the knife into the jar... Did it... Set? The next morning, I dashed downstairs and pried open a jar. My heart sank. It was glop. And it didn't taste very good, either.
Lesson learned: Don't reduce the sugar when you make anything with quince. *Sniff*