October 29, 2009



Paradise jelly, a delicate combination of apples, quinces and cranberries, is truly my favorite jelly. A beautiful pink color it seems an old fashioned jelly, the kind you serve with a silver spoon at teatime.

My grandmother often made it and I consider her jelly the gold standard. She used Crab apples, which are abundant in New England. Here in California, Crab apples are scarce and expensive so I use Granny Smith or Lady apples but any firm tart apple will do.

Hard and sour, quinces are unpleasant to eat raw so demand for them is not great. Look for them at your local farmers' market or ask your grocer to stock them. When cooked the fruit is transformed; it turns a beautiful pink color and has a subtly perfumed flavor with hints of vanilla, pear and something almost tropical.

I have heard it said that Eve, in the Garden of Eden bit into a quince not an apple. Perhaps that is where this ambrosial jelly got its name. I only hope my version is as good as my grandmother's which to me truly was paradise.

Because of the high in pectin content of all three fruits, this jelly sets up beautifully making it another great jelly for beginners.


YEILD: about 8 cups

  • 6 lbs quince
  • 3 lbs apples
  • 8 cups cranberries
  • 12 cups water or to cover
  • 3/4 cups sugar per cup of juice stock

  1. Wash the fuzz from the quinces. Remove the blossom end from the apples and quinces (I use a melon baller) and and cut them into chunks. Do not peel or core. Sort and wash the cranberries.
  2. Place the apples, quinces and cranberries in a large preserving pan with cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Uncover, reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for about an hour  or until the quinces are soft.
  3. Cool slightly and pour into a moistened jelly bag or muslin set in a colander. Let drip without squeezing for 6 hours or overnight.
  4. Measure the strained juice stock into a clean preserving pan. Heat juice stock and for every cup of juice stock  add 3/4 cup of sugar. Increase the heat and boil for 10- 15 minutes, or until jelly is set, skimming as needed. 
  5. Remove from heat and skim if needed. Ladle into hot sterilized jars. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Label and enjoy.
  1. Don't be concerned that the quince take longer to cook that the apple or cranberries.
  2. You can tinker with apple quince ratio just keep the same weight of fruit.
  3. This is my favorite jelly on toasted white bread with a cup of tea! 
  4. Use it as a glaze on apple or pear tarts. 
  5. Quinces and apples are very high in pectin and set up very fast so make sure you are ready to can, with your work station organized your jars and lids etc ready.

October 16, 2009


With summer and its lush bounty behind us we welcome fall's straightforward flavors. The crispness and astringency of apples, pears and pomegranates seem just what our palates crave.

Wonderfully simple, this  jelly’s clean flavors seem to perfectly complement autumns richer foods. A basic apple jelly is enhanced with cider vinegar and sage giving it a hard to define subtlety.

Because of apples' high pectin content this sets up beautifully, making it the perfect jelly for beginners.

I have for the first time included some step-by-step pictures. Readers, please let me know if you like this feature and I will incorporate into more pieces.


YIELD: 4 1/2 pints


  • 3.5 lbs lady apples (you can substitute any flavorful tart variety)
  • 1 medium bunch sage
  • 12 unblemished sage leafs
  • Sugar (3/4 cup/cup of jelly stock)
  • 2/3-cup apple cider vinegar

    1. Remove the blossom end from the apple (I use a melon baller) and coarsely chop them. Do not peel or core. Place the apples in a large preserving pan with the sage and cover with 8 cups water.

    2. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until the fruit  is very soft. Stir once or twice but only to rotate the apples
    3. Cool slightly and pour into a moistened jelly bag or muslin set in a colander. Let drip without squeezing for 6 hours or overnight.

    4. Measure the strained juice into a clean preserving pan and add the vinegar. Bring to a boil and for every cup of apple stock add ¾ cups of sugar. Increase the heat and boil for 10- 15 minutes, skimming as needed. Cook until jelly is set. Watch carefully as the set can some on fast with apples.

    5. Place 2-3 sage leaves in each jar. Remove from heat and skim if needed. Ladle into hot sterilized jars. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Label and enjoy!   

    • This is a wonderful fall jelly to have on hand to serve with roast meats or poultry.
    • Use as a glaze on apple or pear tarts.
    • Apples in general and particularly crab and lady apples set up very fast so make sure you are ready to can, with your work station organized your jars and lids etc ready.

    • Try substituting other herbs such as tarragon or mint for the sage.



    Maybe canning is the answer to economic recovery.
    Check out  Ana Campoys' article in the  Wall Street Journal  on canning. I think we are going mainstream. 
    Get canning everyone!

    October 8, 2009



    Fall is here and with it apples, pears and quince, some of my favorite fruits.  With summer fruits waning we welcome the fall harvest announcing a new season of preserving. Few fruits lend themselves to canning as well as the pear. It’s delicate taste and firm texture make it a perfect canvas for a variety of flavors. 
    This recipe preserves the pears subtle almost floral flavor.  Adding a few peppercorns and the brandy to each jar  provides a barely perceivable  counterbalance to the the sweetness of the sugar syrup, making it a bit more refined than your average canned pear.
    Wonderfully versatile this recipe can be used in any number of dessert preparations.Having a few jars of these on hand allows you to whip up a glamorous dessert in a nanosecond.With the holidays around the corner that's a Godsend.

    Serving Suggestions
    •  With vanilla ice cream drizzled with bittersweet chocolate sauce
    • In their own syrup with a dollop of creme fraiche
    • A compote bowl filled with these is a beautiful addition a dessert buffet
    • Layer them in a store bought cake with whipped cream or pastry cream
    • Drizzle with caramel sauce
    • Add them to your Christmas trifle
    • Add them to a bread pudding  
    • 4 QUARTS


    • 1 gallon cool water 
    • 1 teaspoon citric acid or 1/2 cup lemon juice
    • 8-10 Llbs  firm almost ripe Bartlett pears
    • 2 1/2 cups sugar
    • 6 cups water
    • 1 vanilla bean, opened
    • 24 peppercorns (preferably pink)
    • 4- 8 tablespoons Pear William or other brandy (optional)

    1.  Start your hot water bath and prepare your jars and lids.
    2. Mix the water and citric acid or lemon juice together in a large bowl. Peel, halve and core the pears (I use a melon baller) and place them in the water mixture to prevent browning.
    3. Meanwhile in a large saucepan combine the  sugar and the water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and add the  split vanilla bean.
    4. Place pears in a single layer (you may have to do two batches) in syrup. Cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes  until fruit is heated through.
    5. Put six peppercorns and I - 2 tablespoons of the Pear William or brandy in the bottom of the hot sterilized jars. Using tongs or a slotted spoon pack pears into jars as snugly as possible (the fruit shrinks while cooking). Fill to the top squeezing in an extra half pear if possible.
    6. Fish out the vanilla bean and cut into 4 pieces, tucking a piece into each jar. Cover the pears with the sugar syrup leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe rims  and place lids on screwing on lightly.
    7. Place jars in canner covering with more hot water to submerge the jars. Bring to a boil and process for 25 minutes (timed from the boil). Process pints for 20 minutes. Remove lid and wait 5 minutes before carefully removing jars. Place jars on towels or a cutting board . Let cool undisturbed for 24 hours.


    • Don't be afraid, this sounds far more complicated than it really is.  Once you have the technique down you can riff on the flavors and apply it to other fruits.
    • While I prefer the look of wide-mouth jars, canned fruits or tomatoes fare better in the regular jars as the small opening helps keep the fruit submerged. With the wide mouth jars the fruit rises up to the top sometimes leaving you with an inch or two of liquid on the bottom of the jar, which while it does not affect the fruit, it does not look quite right.

    October 6, 2009



    (is my life being eaten by the internet?)

    I was going to post a piece today on canned pears , waxing on about the glory of fall fruit, but the truth is I am too depressed .  Saddened by the news of Gourmet Magazines shuttering I am instead eating the pears in vanilla syrup, with chocolate,lots of chocolate.
    I know the internet has made made our lives faster and in some ways much more interesting. I know it has increased the exchange of information between cultures and is considered the great democratizer. I love blogging and the platform that the internet has given writers like me and a whole new generation of foodies.  But I am saddened to see the demise of publishing, the closing of neighborhood stores, and the homogenization of the movie business.
    I am going to have a nap, wake me up yesterday.