Quince Jelly (Sicilian Cotognata)
Updated: Oct 10, 2021
The making of quince jam & quince jelly - both called Cotognata by Sicilians - were a family affair back home. Me, my sister, my dad would all be hanging in and around the kitchen while my mum would patiently stir quince apples and sugar into a giant pot, like a wizard preparing a magic potion.
The huge batch of jam, enough to last for months and months, would then be divided in two - one to be stored in jars and shared with the wider family, and one to be stirred for even longer, then transferred to tin moulds and left to dry in the open for days, until they turned into jelly.
A very traditional recipe in Sicily, which unfortunately you don’t see that often nowadays - I believe quince jelly is also traditional to Greece, Spain, Portugal.
Quince apples 1kg
Rinse quinces carefully while rubbing the skin with your hands or a sponge to remove the outer tiny hair. My mum used to boil the quinces whole and then peel off the skin, but I instead kept the skin and skipped the boiling step.
Remove core and stalk and chop roughly. Place in a bowl with lemon juice (leave the lemon in), sugar and water. Cover and rest all night.
The next day, transfer everything (including the squeezed lemon) to a pot and simmer on low heat for about 2 hours, stirring frequently at first, then letting it simmer until all the liquid has evaporated and the jelly has solidified.
Discard the lemon. Rinse the jelly moulds under water - this will prevent the jelly from sticking.
Moving very quickly, transfer the jelly to tin moulds - you want to do this while still very hot or it will harden and be difficult to shape. Leave in the open to cool down completely and allow it to dry up for at least 24 hrs.
After 24 hrs, remove the jelly from the mould, but still leave it to dry for another 1-2 days. You can eat it right away, but wait until it’s fully dried before transferring to an airtight container.
Because I’ve reduced the quantity of sugar, this will last for up to 1 month. Traditionally, the amount of sugar should be twice as much, in which case it’ll preserve for several months.