This autumn gift arrived today from the south island. Here it is, freshly unwrapped from its litttle box.
What is it?
I've never seen such a thing before.
Here's a clue: my fingers were sticky as I unpacked it, and when I licked them - yumm!
Here's another clue: a slice of this orange delight, just before spreading.
The gift was sent by an appreciative reader in the south island. She is living on the land and loves to share stories of what's happening on her lifestyle block. And now I will reveal all: this is a round of quince jelly. It's an annual ritual for her to make it, and she loves watching it 'turn from translucent pale yellow to this rich autumn amber.'
This gift is a special treat for reasons that my south island friend doesn't know. When I was first married I decided to make jam, using the abundant quinces that were falling off the tree in the garden. They were ugly fruit, and not particularly edible, but I was told that they made marvellous jam or jelly. Armed with a preserving pan borrowed from my mother, and her instructions about how to know when to stop boiling the mixture, I embarked on the adventure of jam making.
Alas! My neighbour, who knew everything, popped in. She kept discouraging me from stopping and potting the jam, saying it needed more boiling. And so I boiled it on and on. The next morning what did I find? Pots of toffee that were so hard they couldn't be approached. I threw the whole lot away and never tried jam-making again.
Now this beautiful circle of quince jelly has arrived through my letterbox. The wheel has come full circle. I can at last enjoy the autumn blessings of the quince.