The Story behind our Quince Paste

Young farmers Gloria and Tricia grow a variety of apples, stone fruit and quince in the small farming town of The Summit, 13 km outside of Stanthorpe. The summer season was going well, with good fruit development on all of their quince trees. Around Christmas a massive hail storm went down and their whole orchard was hit. 


They expected to loose the whole quince crop, but the fruit hang on to the branches and kept growing. Came harvest time they were faced with a dilemma - yes, there was a lot of quince fruit ready for picking but no, there wasn't any first grade fruit that could go to the market. What to do now?

I heard about Gloria's farm from my friend Martin, a cider maker who had recently visited the orchard. I got in touch immediately and was able to purchase 300kg of hail damaged fruit that had nowhere else to go. These quinces were grown without any pesticides and got hand picked at their peak - it can't get any better than this, can it?

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The fact that the fruit was badly hail damaged meant we had to spend more time preparing them in the kitchen. Each fruit was affected differently and the only way to prepare these quinces was one by one by hand. There simply isn't a shortcut when working with imperfect fruit. But once the prep was done, we were rewarded with the most beautiful pink and fragrant quince paste. And knowing that all this delicious fruit would have gone to waste otherwise totally makes up for the extra work involved. 

Let's judge fruit by taste and freshness not superficial beauty. It's the inner beauty that counts!

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The Story behind our Preserved Lemons

Ugly Duck Preserves moved from Brisbane to Kandanga earlier this year. The move allowed me to be closer to farmers and spend more time in the country. As soon as I moved, I was introduced to Malcom from SweetAz farms. Mal and his wife Tay grow the most beautiful Eurika lemons, limes and Maccadamias on their sustainable farm in Dagun. They grow their fruit spray-free and use beneficial insects to control pest.

You would think that such quality fruit won't go to waste but unfortunately they do. Malcoms lemons grow so well, that they often end up too big for the consumer! In fact it's not uncommon to see lemons weighting in over 500g each.

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The lemon farm is only 10 minutes from my Kandanga kitchen. I often drop in on a Sunday afternoon to spend a few hours picking those giant lemons that nobody else wants. I take them back to the kitchen and we cut them up into bitesize pieces and preserve them in pure, Australian sea salt.

Let's be honest, Australian farmers work very hard and deserve our full support. And I believe, that fresh fruit ugly or not, is a valuable resource we have to respect and do everything we can to make the most of. Picking unwanted fruit and giving them a second life feels extremely rewarding and this is what we are all about:

Revealing the inner beauty!

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Looking after your jam

We put a lot of time and effort into our handmade jams and we want you to be able to enjoy them to their full potential. As you know our jams are low in sugar and high in fruit content, this is what makes them so delicious but it also makes them more prone to spoiling faster than your standard supermarket product. To get the most out of your jam please consider the following:

COOL: Once your jam pot has been opened it needs to be kept in the fridge. Especially now, during our humid, queensland summer months. Yeast loves sugar and humidity and could start growing inside your jar quite quickly.

CLEAN: Do everything you can to keep your jam clean. Don't butter your slice of bread and then dip the same knife into your jam pot. You will introduce contamination that could cause mould to grow on your jam. Use a clean spoon to scoop out the amount of jam you need. Put your lid back on the pot as soon as possible, to stop bread crumbs and other bits falling in.

TIMELY: Our jams will not last forever. Once you have opened them, enjoy them regularly. If you treat them right they should last 8 weeks or more inside your fridge but the sooner you eat them the sooner you get to open another flavour!

Just like other refrigerated food products, jam tastes best when you let it come to room temperature first!


But what about all the sugar...

When I tell people I'm a jam maker, one of the first questions I get is about the sugar content of jams. Nowadays everybody is aware that large quantities of sugar are bad for us and a lot of weight problems come down to consuming too much high sugar foods and soft drinks.

But you don't need to be scared of our jams. Modern recipes are nothing like the high sugar recipes your grandparents used. With a better understanding of the process of jam making, we are now able to make fresh, vibrant, low sugar jams that actually taste of fresh fruit. 

Here at Ugly Duck Preserves we only use the minimal amount of sugar needed to preserve and set our jams. A lot of our jams are actually set quite soft and that's because we use a lower sugar percentage. Our jams are made with a very high percentage of fresh fruit, because the more fruit we pack into each jar the more fruit we can rescue! 

Reducing the sugar content in jams also reduces the shelf life. You might remember your parents or grandparents storing their jams for years to come. Modern jams will keep for 6-8 month, maybe longer, but we are sure that is enough time to enjoy our hand-crafted jars before the next seasons produce is available. Once you have opened your jam, store it in the fridge and consume the content within 4-8 weeks.

Enjoy jams as glazes on meat, fish and poultry, as milkshake flavours, over ice-cream, in pastry and cakes and of course on a fresh slice of toast with unsalted butter!