From Robert Olaj
- 6 large quinces, washed and dried
- 1 x 750mL bottle of plain vodka (I prefer Luksusowa Polish potato vodka; it’s very smooth).
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 cloves
- white sugar, to taste—at least ½ cup (125mL)
- honey, to taste
Sterilize a large glass or ceramic jar with a leak-proof lid, just big enough to fit all of your quinces.
Using a sharp, coarse grater, grate the quinces, skin on, into a large bowl. Be careful to stop grating when you get close to the core (you don’t want to include seeds in the mix). Be extra careful with this step—the quinces are very hard, and you don’t want to slip and, well, you get the picture.
When all the quinces are grated, take the pulp and gently pack it into your sterilized vessel. Pour the vodka over the pulp until it is fully submerged. Be sure to gently press down on the quince pulp to remove any air pockets. If you have more quince than vodka, buy more vodka to submerge the pulp.
Drink the remaining vodka.
Slide a cinnamon stick into the centre of the jar. Press the cloves into the pulp.
Secure the lid onto your vessel and place it in a cool, dark place for six weeks.
Once every week, shake your vessel for a minute, invert it, and place it back into its resting place (this is where the leak-proof lid comes in handy).
At the end of six weeks, strain the mixture through a colander lined with cheesecloth stretched over a bowl. Then gather the corners of the cheesecloth and gently squeeze the remaining quince juice and vodka from the pulp until it is dry and crumbly. Discard the pulp.
For a clearer liqueur, strain it a couple more times through clean cheesecloth placed over a sieve, or strain it through a jelly bag. You want to get the liqueur as free of fine pulp sediment as possible.
Sweeten the resultant quince/vodka mixture by pouring white sugar and a touch of honey into the liquid. Stir until dissolved. Hold the faith and sweeten to your taste. Try not to be horrified by the volume of sugar it takes to sweeten the liqueur—the vodka-quince mixture is very tart. If you’d prefer not to use white sugar, use the sweetener of your choice. I’ve used just honey in the past, but found that it overpowered the delicate taste of the quince.
When the mixture is sweetened to your liking, use a funnel to pour it into sterilized bottles. Cap with screw-tops or corks, and store bottles in a cool, dark place. They need not be refrigerated and will last for a year or longer.