New laid eggs and quince jelly

A blue and gold autumn day, balanced between the warmth still in the sun and the wind's slight chill. This morning I took my basket out to pick quince. I am stretching up into the branches of the little tree when Ian shouts for me. Amazement and excitement - the hens have laid! I was entirely resigned to having no eggs until the Spring but Ian looked in the nestbox this morning (instincts of a countryman he claims) and there were two perfect, but tiny eggs. Here they are in the dish with our walnut crop. We had bacon and tiny egg for lunch and they were orange yolked and delicious. I suppose the trouble with bantams is that they will produce small eggs, the upside of not tearing your garden to pieces. The bantam hens had been looking much more henlike for the last couple of weeks, their combs properly grown, their tails high and full. I would love their presence without the eggs, but with eggs as well, what's not to love?

When our friends came recently S and I decided that the beautiful little tree which sits on top of the bank overlooking the valley was a medlar. On the day of the Shropshire/Wales lunch mountainear had a look and was not so sure. She thought it was quince and after much trotting around on the internet so did I. SBS said I would know it was quince if I made jelly with it as the colour and flavour is so distinctive. The fruit is not large but knobbly and golden, like a misshapen apple.

All afternoon the jelly bag dripped gently into the pan while I pottered in and out, gathering all the red onions, planting the japanese anemone mountainear had brought, podding the borlotti beans. Late in the afternoon the juice went back into the pan with the sugar and then boiled away for what seemed like hours. The children from the farm came down to see the chickens and I wandered in and out of the kitchen, dropped teaspoons on a cold plate, left it in the fridge for a minute and pushed gently at it with my finger to see if it would wrinkle.

Now there are six jars of quince jelly glowing like jewels in the kitchen and it is time to get changed to go out for an invitation to eat booked weeks ago when the thought of England making it to the Rugby World Cup final would have made you choke into your glass of wine. Will we watch it? who knows. We are playing it cool.


  1. Congratulations on your eggs! They look beautiful!!

  2. Oh, how fantastic on both counts! DO Bantams really not scratch up the garden? I'm still weighing up the pros and cons of hen breeds.
    The quince jelly looks so clear and lovely, well done, that bowl of leftover quinces should 'perfume a room' if left to their own devices - according to Monty Don (we're a bit obsessed with reading about fruit trees at the moment). I just hope it's a nice perfume!

  3. Lovely eggs! Lucky you. Clever banties. Nothing wrong with small eggs. How strange they have started to lay on the same day.

    Your jelly looks delicious. Alan made quince jelly yesterday and the spoonful which wouldn't fit into the jars went on our breakfast toast. It was jewel-like too and was of good taste - ever-so-slightly perfumed.

  4. I've never had quince jelly, but yours looks beautiful.

    When I was a young girl, my grandmother had bantams, guineas and pheasants. I was afraid of them, especially the guineas, but the eggs were delicious. How wonderful for you to have lovely fresh eggs!

  5. Dont fret first eggs are always small youngest loves saving the first eggs and then keeping them in nests he has retreived from the garden after the birds have flown south and the wind has knocked them out of their trees. Our window sills look something like an illustration of a 1950's school nature table as a result!!

  6. Lovely jelly. Fruit definitely not medlar, they have a very distinctive shape, which I wont describe in Breton terms, suffice it to say it is to do with the rear end of a chien.

  7. Eggs, home made quince jelly, bantam hens. It sounds like paradise to me.

  8. i have always dreamed of living the way you do--the eggs, the bounty, the homemade jam....

    i must confess i am inept at all and dont even know what a quince is, exactly.

    except that you eat it with a runcible spoon.

  9. You know how sometimes pictures strike a chord in you, like a little ache? Your pictures have just done that for me. They took me right to where I aim to be one day. I love my job - but it's full-time and therefore time-consuming. So looking forward to the day when I can go part-time, keep some hens (we had guinea fowl and bantams when I was a child), make jam and enjoy the sights and smells of autumn. I just love your blog!

  10. Definitely quince....medlars have a weird bobbly bit. I realised, eventually, that Mum's were actually japonicas - but made lovely jelly nonetheless. And those walnuts! Seriously envious of those...I adore nuts.

  11. A walnut tree lucky you!!! and the jelly looks delicious , does it taste good?? and 2 darling little eggs bless em' xx
    the walk at sbs was so interesting, we'll see if she'll take us before the weather changes to the abandoned village!! you can ride pillion lol xxxxxxxx

  12. bantams are fab aren't they? ours lay when they feel like it but we treasure each egg. And mix in a couple of hybrids to ensure eggs year round.
    We too have a quince tree (2 seasons old) and made quince somethingorother with them this year - paste I think like you get in spain. Anyway, it is delicious although there was only enough for one jar!
    I'm with EJ - walnuts,lovely


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