Quince, how do I love thee. That’s right. I have a soft spot in my heart for this exotic fruit (for pomegranates too, remember?). I like to eat it as is, skin and all, and I also like it in the form of preserve. Quince in Azerbaijan is especially delicious and the land of my ancestors, the region of Ordubad, produces the juiciest quince of all, as juicy as apples, and I am not exaggerating. Quince that I find in California markets is not as juicy, but still makes for a perfect preserve. This is a recipe for the traditional Azerbaijani quince preserve that is usually enjoyed with freshly brewed black tea. A spoonful of quince preserve, a sip of hot tea – that’s how the sequence goes for an Azerbaijani. Nush Olsun!
Quince Preserve (Heyva Murebbesi)
Makes 2 pints(1 litre)
2 pounds (1 kg) cored and cut quince (see the recipe) – about 4-5 large quinces
2 pounds (1 kg) granualated sugar
1 cup water
Pinch of citric acid
If the quince has fuzz, rub the fruit to remove the fuzz from its surface. Quarter and remove the core (do not peel). Using a crinkle cutter (see picture below), cut each quarter crosswise into slices, about 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) thick. If you don’t have a crinkle cutter, use a regular knife. Weigh the quince and make sure it is in the 1×1 ration with the sugar.
Put the quince in a wide heavy based saucepan, preferably not very deep. Evenly distribute the sugar over the quince and pour in the water. Simmer over medium heat, uncovered, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time, until the quince is golden (like in the first picture) and the syrup has somewhat thickened, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Toss in the citric acid 5 minutes before removing the preserve from the heat. Allow the preserve to cool.
Spoon the cooled preserve into a jar and seal it tightly. Keep in a cool, dry place. To serve, spoon the quince with the syrup into a round preserve bowl (it is called murebbe gabi in Azerbaijan).