I have just finished a marathon week in the kitchen preserving our summer harvest. Figs were simmered in syrup, then dried in the sun. Quince paste was made, and bottles of quinces preserved in Grandma's old Fowlers Vacola. The same rusty old orange pot and sturdy glass jars that helped preserve the fruit from Grant's grandfathers' orchard for generations past. Every night through the long cold southern winters of his childhood they would open a jar of plums, peaches or apricots and spoon the taste of summer into their stomachs with custard or cream. It is a tradition I am happy to continue for our children.
I had two baskets full of quinces to play with after foraging through an old abandoned garden in town. The garden's quince tree hangs over a back alleyway and all its fruit grow high up on its spindly branches where they can reach the sun. It took a couple of visits, dodging cars driving past to the bottle shop, to bring all the quinces home, but when we did we had enough to make the paste and bottle eight jars, with a bowl remaining to enjoy now.
I carved up our enormous slab of molten quince past last night and have it stored between layers of baking paper in a deep old biscuit tin. Now we are just waiting for the weekend to serve our first square with a ripe, oozing, unctuous round of brie.