Tag Archives: low carb jams

Is Quince a Quasi-apple?

The only quince I knew when I was growing up was my Great Uncle Quince and I always thought it an unusual name.  For many years, I had no idea it was also a fruit. I didn’t actually try that fruit until about two years ago when I found some at one of the local grocery stores.  Although they look like an apple, they are not and you don’t eat them raw. They must be cooked. Once cooked, they taste similar to an apple and they pair very well with apples and pears. Even though they are related, the quince is the only one in its genus, which is Cydonia, although it is part of the Rosaceae family, along with apples and pears. So, related but not… does this make them like an in-law?

Like many fruits and vegetables, the quince has a long history that goes back to ancient Asia, Turkey, Iran and pretty much the rest of the Mediterranean. Although it likes the rocky slopes and woodland marshes of southwest Asia, do not confuse it with the Chinese Quince. The Akkadians called it supurgillu. The modern name came from 14th century France as a plural form of quoyn. The Greeks called it kydonion melon or kydonian apple.

It is possible that quince may have been cultivated before apples and it may be that many references translated to apple may actually have been quince. Customs surround the quince. Ancient Greeks used it a ritual offering at weddings because it had come from the Levant with Aphrodite and was sacred to her. The Greek bride would nibble on quince to perfume her breath prior to entering her bridal chamber. Paris awarded Aphrodite a quince and it was for a golden quince that Atalanta paused in her race. The Roman Apicius cookbook had recipes for stewing quince with honey and even combining them with leeks.

In the past, quince was once a staple in kitchens world-wide but now it is a novel fruit and is not seen too often. I can find it in the fall at one grocery store in Reno. There is a pineapple quince variety that grows in California, but the majority of them are imported from South America. Although interest has diminished in North America, it is still popular in many Latin American countries.


How is is used in different cultures? In many ways. In Moroccan, Persian, Romanian and Balkan cuisine, it is used as a confection. Quince can be added to meaty stews and in much the same way as apples or pears. Called melimelum by the Romans, the Greek name means “honey apple” because the fruit was preserved in honey for jam. The Portuguese called it marmelo, a name that combines melimelum and marmelado, which was a favorite confection. The British used it in tarts and pies.

With a high pectin content, quince is easy to turn into marmalade, conserves, jams or jelly. They can be poached, stewed, baked and pretty much treated as a cooked apple. You just can’t eat them raw. They should be cored and peeled before use. An easy way to peel them is to par boil them for about three minutes, then the skin slides right off.

Nutrition information for 1 fruit, peeled and cored
Calories: 52 Fat: 0.1 g Net Carbs: 9.7 g Protein: 0.4 g

Quince Apple Jam

Scone with Quince-Apple Jam. Photo by R. Averett

Adapted for low carb by Rene Averett

Easy to make and will only store a few weeks. Quince may be found in the fall and there are places where you can order it online.  If you make more than you can eat in two or three weeks, freeze part of the batch in a freezer bag and store for several months.

1 Quince
1 Cooking Apple
1 cup sugar substitute (xylitol, like Ideal sugar)
2 cups of water
1 Tbs lemon juice

Peel and grate, or finely chop, the apple and the quince.

Bring the water to a boil and add the grated or chopped fruit. Let them cook, stirring now and then, until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the sugar substitute and lemon juice, lower the cook temperature to medium and continue to cook until the sauce thickens to a jam. Let cool, then ladle into a clean jar and store in refrigerator.

Makes about 1 cup of jam. About 16 servings.

Nutrition info per tablespoon of jam (1 serving)
Calories:9.7 Fat: 0.0 Net Carbs: 2.6 g Protein: 0.1 g

Sources for information in this blog include Specialty Produce,
Wikipedia, Nature’s Pride and Nutrition and You

Photo at top from Wikimedia Commons, used with permission – “Quitte Cydonia oblonga” by Dietrich Krieger – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Making a Jam or Compote


With the end of summer, I found myself with a decent crop of pears on my 12 year old pear tree… a very unusual occurrence. Normally the birds sample every piece of fruit on the tree as soon as it is fully formed. This year, only a few had holes pecked in them and I decided to pick them before they ripened on the tree. My pears are on a five in one variety of tree that produces small fruits, but it was a plentiful crop this year.

I brought them in, put them a bag to ripen and in due time, they began to turn colors and soften. Now I had way too many pears to eat before they began to turn rotten, so what to do? Pears are not an allowed food on the weight loss part of a low carb diet, although they are allowed when you reach maintenance. But I love the taste and decided to turn them into a jam or compote that would result in a low carb version.

LC Foods has a wonderful product for making cranberry sauce that is 0 carb and 0 calories, so the only thing you have to worry about is the actual carbs and calories in the fruit. Pears are very rich in natural sugars, which makes them high carb’d. While I don’t have a way to remove the carbs, I can use them sparingly and they make a wonderful topping on a low carb muffin.

So, I pulled out the LC-Cranberry Sauce, which uses “Inulin (chicory root) fiber, digestion resistant polydextrose fiber, sucralose, organic stevia rebaudiana leaf and natural luo han guo monk fruit” to make the powder, to make a delicious cranberry sauce. At $7.98, this makes several batches and I used this last year to make the sauce as instructed on the label for Thanksgiving, but also cooked it longer to make it thicker, put it in a jar in the refrigerator and used it as a cranberry jam for about four months. Wonderful!

I thought it would work well with the pears and I am very happy with the result. You can cut back a little on the amount of the LC-Cranberry Sauce powder since pears have a natural sweetness that cranberries don’t have.

With this success, I plan to try more fruits, such as peaches, apples and anything else that I can’t find already made into a jam. (LC Foods has strawberries, blueberries, peaches and blackberries for sale in pint jars for $7.98 a jar, which is really not unreasonable when you compare the prices at the grocery store for small jars of jam.) For now, here’s the recipe I used to make Pear Jam.


Pear Jam or Compote

3 cups diced fresh Pears
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1/2 cup Water
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Clove
1/4 cup LC Foods Cranberry Sauce Mix

Cook diced pears with lemon juice, water, cinnamon and clove until they are just tender and boiling. Add cranberry sauce mix powder and stir in well until it is completely dissolved. Cook on low heat for about 15 minutes so that the mixture begins to thicken. Turn off heat and completely cool.

Once cooled, put the pear compote in a jar, then in the refrigerator. It will keep several weeks in the fridge. Or you can bag the compote in a freezer bag and freeze them until you are ready for them. Thaw them out, then put into a jar and into the refrigerator.

Makes about 2 cups of pear compote.

Nutrition Info for 1 tablespoon
Calories: 13.1 Total Carb: 3.4g Fiber .7g Net Carbs: 2.7g Protein .1g

TIP: Pears ripen from the inside out, so when they are soft when pressed around the stem or the bottom indicates that the pear is ripe.  Once the softness extends to the middle of the exterior, the pear is already over ripened.


A Taste of Pumpkin Pie In A Spread


As I was slathering my morning muffin with Pumpkin Butter this morning, I realized that I had not added this simple and delicious recipe for the low carb goodness of this butter to my blog. It simply needs to be shared. If you love the taste of pumpkin pie, this is just for you! This recipe is adapted from one I found on the web and I simply made it low carb and added a few more spices. This is a refrigerator jam, so you do need to eat it within a few months… if it lasts that long! In addition to putting it on toast or muffins, you can mix it with vanilla yogurt (I use Carbmasters) or mixing it with soft cream cheese and whipped topping for a quick pumpkin parfait.

Easy Low Carb Pumpkin Butter

15 oz. Canned Pumpkin
½ Cup Water
½ Cup Granulated Splenda or Ideal sugar (or 24 drops of liquid Sucralose)
1 tablespoon Cinnamon
1 tsp. Cloves
1/4 tsp. Allspice
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie spice

Put canned pumpkin into a sauce pan over medium heat. Add sweetener to water and stir into pumpkin. Add spices and cook for ten minutes stirring often.

Let cool, then spoon into a canning jar, put on lid and store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 30 servings – 1 tablespoon each

Nutrition Info (with Splenda)
Calories 6.7  Net Carbs 1.5 g  Protein .2 g

(with liquid Sucralose and/or sugar alcohol)
Calories 6.7  Net Carbs 1 g  Protein .2 g

Tip: This is a refrigerator butter. Keep pumpkin butter refrigerated and use within 6 months.

Fruit of the Desert – Prickly Pear

When I was a kid, we used to travel across the southwest on vacation every other summer. Among the stop points along the way in many states was a Stuckey’s Store. They had gas, food, souvenirs, turquoise jewelry and cactus candy. In spite of having looked at it many times, I never once tried the cactus candy. So now, when presented with a few cactus pears from the volunteer cactus in my yard, I thought I would make cactus marmalade before tackling a candy.  PK had a recipe her mother used to make prickly pear orange marmalade. It sounded good.

Learn From My Mistakes

Well, the first try didn’t go too smoothly. I picked the pears carefully using tongs and a big bowl, brought them in and used tongs to hold the pear while I burned the thorns off. I even thought that prickly pears should be purple, but they felt a little soft to the touch, so I cut them up, as one preparation instruction said I could and popped them into the food processor to reduce them to pulp and juice. Except there was very little juice at the end. I put them on the stove and boiled them with water, but the result was about 1/4 cup of ugly brown liquid that had no flavor. The pears need to change color, which in turn meant getting ripe. Not one of the articles I read on the prickly pears stated that they should be completely purple or deep orange or whatever color they change to from green. Mine were on the plant so long that I thought they must not change colors. Since it was turning to winter and they still hadn’t turned but were shriveling up slightly, I thought they must not change colors. Scratch the first attempt.


I started checking the markets and found one that had some of the pears in and they were half purple already. I let them sit about a week in a brown paper bag until they were completely purple and soft. The purchased ones already had the thorns burned off, but I still used precautions in handling them, in case there were tiny hair-thin stickers on them. You should use gloves when handling them or use a fork to hold them while cutting. To prepare, cut the ends off each end of the pear, then run a knife from one end to the other cutting under the skin. You can then carefully peel it back to reveal the pear inside.

This attempt came out pretty good. I thought the oranges made it bitter when I tasted the jam while cooking and I threw more sugar substitute at it. But once I tasted it after it was cooled down, using a teaspoon or so in with a cup of vanilla yogurt and whipped cream, I didn’t notice the bitterness, so perhaps the oranges need time to absorb the sweetness into the skins and pithy part. I also thought a thin skinned orange, rather than a navel orange, might be better so may try it with the little cuties oranges.

Now to the recipe. This can be used to make enough for canning, but I don’t include any canning instructions. This recipe makes about three 8 oz. jars of marmalade. You can double it to make more. You can also buy the prickly pears, peel them. reduce them to a puree, then put them in a plastic bag and freeze it to use later. Just don’t forget you have it in the freezer, as I sometimes forget things, and they end up being tossed out because they are found after three years. This recipe is adapted by me for low carb and I added a little ground clove to it. I used LC Foods Cranberry Sauce Mix to thicken it. You can just use a sugar substitute. The amount is in parentheses. If you don’t care about it being low carb, feel free to use sugar.  It will take two cups or more. One recipe suggested one cup of sugar per one cup of fruit mix. I think that’s too sweet.

Toni’s Prickly Pear Orange Marmalade

2 medium Navel Oranges, skin on
8 Cactus Fruits
Juice from 1 Orange strained
1/2 cup LC Foods Cranberry Jam mix or sugar substitute (1 cup sugar)
20 drops liquid Sucralose (1 cup sugar)
1 Lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon ground Clove

Cut off ends of the oranges, then slice very thinly, tossing away any seeds. Place in a bowl with 2 cups of cold water and allow to stand for at least 3 hours. (I soaked them overnight.) Pour orange water into a bowl, then put orange slices in a food processor to chop into smaller pieces.

Orange slices soaking in water.

Cut off ends of cactus fruit, then peel. Puree in a food processor then push through a small colander or sieve to get rid of the seeds. Combine with the orange juice and orange slices with orange water in a heavy sauce pan and bring slowly to a boil.


Prickly pear puree with froth on the top. Look at the beautiful color of this marmalade!

Turn heat to high and boil quickly for 5 minutes, skimming off any froth that rises to the surface.  Stir in the sugar, clove and lemon juice. Bring up to a boil again, lower the temperature to a medium heat and continue boiling and skimming until mixture thickens to almost a jam consistency. Taste to make sure it is sweet enough. Add more sugar if necessary. It will thicken more as it cools.

Prepare jars by and lids by running  them through your dishwasher to clean and heat the jars. Spoon marmalade into jars, leaving 1/2 inch at the top for the seal.

Prickly pear marmalade in the pot and…
… a bit of it on a scone. Yum!






Makes about three jars.

Nutrition Info per tablespoon of jam:
Calories: 13  Fat: .1 g  Net Carbs: 2.9 g  Protein: .2 g