Stir together the water, honey, vanilla bean, lemon, and star anise (if using) in a wide, non-reactive pot, and warm the liquid over medium heat.
Peel, quarter, and core the quince, taking great caution to avoid cutting yourself. As each quarter is prepared, add it to the warm poaching liquid. Bring the poaching liquid to a slow simmer (do not boil) and cook the fruit uncovered for at least two hours until the quince is soft. Stir occasionally but not too vigorously.
Remove the pot from the stove, let cool, and store in the refrigerator for 12-48 hours. (You can skip this step, but the finished preserves won’t be quite as deep red.)
Return the pot to the stove over low heat, and gently cook the fruit mixture until there is not much liquid remaining (another couple hours), and the preserves are starting to look sludgy. Remove the vanilla bean, lemon, and star anise (if using) from the pot.
Use a silicon spatula or wooden spoon to break the quince quarters into smaller chunks. Alternately you can mash the quince with a potato masher for a more uniform consistency. Keep simmering the mixture until a track behind a wood spoon dragged through the quince doesn’t fill in immediately. Remove from heat.
Fill jars, leaving ½” headspace, and wipe rims. Screw on lids and rings until “finger tight”. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
This recipe requires a long cooking time, though very little active time after you’ve started things simmering away.