Quince Simple Syrup and the Boulder Creek Sour
Recipes from a Mountain Garden
By Alison Steele
I adore simple syrups. Strawberry rhubarb, lemon balm, feijoa, and now quince are some of my favorites, adding sweet, tart, and herbal flavor celebrations to the palate in the form of food or drink! Easy and versatile, use them to sweeten lemonade and iced tea in the summer, hot herbal teas in the winter, drizzle over Saturday morning pancakes or fresh chevre on a cheese plate. Here’s a tart cocktail for the holidays!
Quince Simple Syrup
5 pounds of ripe quince, washed and quartered
Just enough water to cover the fruit
1 c of fair-trade sugar (or ½ c lightly-colored honey) to each cup of liquid you make. This will be determined after straining the cooked fruit.
Zest and juice of two lemons
Quince Simple Syrup
Place quince in a heavy bottomed stockpot, and fill with just enough water to cover. This ensures a flavor-packed syrup! Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until the quince pieces are soft, about 35 minutes. The juice will turn a lovely shade of pink if the quinces are ripe!
After the fruit juice has cooled, place a colander lined with butter muslin over a large bowl to catch the juice. Pour the pulp and juice into the colander with the bowl underneath. Tie the corners of the muslin together and hang from a cabinet knob over the bowl for a few hours to collect the juice. For a crystal clear syrup, resist the urge to squeeze the bag.
Measure the juice and add equal amounts of sugar, along with the lemon juice and zest, into the heavy bottomed stock pot you used to cook the fruit. If you like it tart, reduce the sugar to ½ c sweetener per 1 c juice. Bring to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce to a lively simmer cook for another 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the syrup cooks down, sterilize a pack of 4 oz mason jars in boiling water on a canning rack for 10 minutes so that the water covers the jars by an inch or so. Wash the lids and rings in hot soapy water, rinse, and return to a bowl of hot water.
When ready, ladle hot syrup into hot jars ⅝ inch from the top, wipe the rim clean, tighten lids, and set back into the hot water to keep the jars warm. A cool jar added to hot water will crack. Repeat until all the syrup is used. Make sure the lids are covered by at least an inch of water, return to a boil, and process for 10 minutes. When finished, set the hot jars onto a dish towel on top of a cutting board and let cool. If you have hard water, wipe the lids dry so the jars won’t have a chalky appearance when they dry. After hearing the lids pop, use a finger to push the lid on the cooled jars. If it doesn’t bounce up and down you’ve gotten a good seal. These colorful little jars will last on the pantry shelf for a year until the fruit comes back into season and it’s time to do it all over again!
Our friends over at The Bourbon Blog just sent us a box of their newly reviewed Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey from distillers Emily Harrison and Meghan Ireland, hand bottled at their farm in Vermont. I needed a special drink to showcase this smooth spirit along with the fresh citrus hitting the Farmer’s Markets, the sweet quince from my neighbor, and the tart floral feijoas that are dropping in the garden. After much research, I traced the New York Sour back to its origins in 1880s Chicago. Stolen and popularized by New Yorkers, they grabbed on and wouldn’t let go of this Whiskey Sour with a float of red wine. Here’s my take on this timeless drink.
The Boulder Creek Sour
¼ c Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey
Juice of ½ a lemon, about 2 T
2 T quince simple syrup
1 fresh egg white* (optional)
3 T elderberry wine
Feijoa slice & lemon zest for garnish
Pour whiskey, lemon juice, and egg white into a 16 oz. mason jar with ice, screw the lid on tight and shake hard until well-chilled and frothy. Strain into a fresh glass leaving room for the quince syrup. Slowly, pour the syrup down the inside of the glass. Follow with the wine. Garnish with a feijoa twig, a slice of the fruit, and lemon zest. Stir sweet and sour flavors together before sipping. Savor with friends and family!
Don’t have elderberry wine? Margins’ Wine maker, Megan Bell, crafted a 2020 Santa Clara Valley Mourvedre with hints of guava, cassis, and feijoa that would mingle perfectly with the sweet floral notes of quince and pineapple guavas!
Don’t indulge? Simply use a strong rooibos tea in place of the whiskey, add to a shaker with ice along with lemon juice and egg white. Strain into a glass over fresh ice. Add soda water instead of wine, then slowly pour the syrup down the side of the glass. Drizzle elderberry syrup over the frothy head and garnish.
*It’s worth mentioning that we use eggs raised here for recipes containing raw eggs. Not only are they super fresh, but they’re raised in a sunny, healthy environment. If you’re worried about it, feel free to skip the egg white.
A native of Virginia, Alison Steele lives with her husband, two children, and cat in Boulder Creek where she raises quail, chickens, fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs. Alison plays banjo and sings in Sugar by the Pound.
Photos by Alison Steele