Quince is such an amazing fruit. At first quince can seem rugged, almost stubborn; then boring with their white flesh and the hairy skin can be off-putting; plus the preparation can be quite elaborate. But despite all this quince has grown to be one of my favorite fruits.
I realize that it’s quite late in the season for this article, as for instance the season for Swiss quince is already over. But there are still quince to be found, even in organic quality. And mostly I just wrote this down to help my memory next year.
General tip: Before washing the quince under cold water, rub the hairy skin off with your thumbs when they are still dry. This goes much faster than trying this under water.
Here is what we make from quince every year:
Quince Jelly – This is the most obvious thing to do with quince, so I am not adding a recipe here, there are plenty of recipes to be found online. Just a few things. Fully core and peel the fruit, yet do add some clean peel when cooking the fruit, this will help to color it orange/red. Do not stir while cooking and let the cooked fruit stand over night. Don’t press the cooked fruit at all when you filter the juice, this will help keep the jelly very clear. Quince are high-pectin fruit, so any added pectin has to be on the lowest end of the spectrum.
Quince Cordial – Use your favorite fruit cordial recipe to make it, but make sure to add some extra lemon juice and at least 20 grams of citric acid per liter to prevent the cordial from jellying (yes, because of said high pectin). Quince cordial works as a nice cold drink, with lots of ice, or you can prepare it hot in winter.
Membrillo – The Spanish way. Membrillo is quite a work-intensive process, but very rewarding, because it keeps in the fridge for such a long time (we still had some from last year and it was still fine, when we made our new batch this year). Membrillo goes very well with cheese plates and can be added to pies, pizzas, sandwiches etc. But make sure to try this excellent butternut squash and stilton quiche.
Quince, brown sugar – This is a quick bake and an excellent desert. Clean, remove the core of your quince and then cut them in half, but leave their skin on. Add some butter and dark sugar (mascobado) to the core, turn them over and place them upside down in a well buttered oven dish. Squeeze some lemon over it. Bake for 30 min. or until the skin looks a little burned/caramelized. To serve add some crème fraîche and more brown sugar and eat it with a spoon. The skin is edible, too, but not to everyone’s taste. This recipe works best with perfectly ripe fruit that have no brown parts. (Recipe from River Cafe Two Easy)
100 g Butter
150 g Brown sugar
Crème fraîche to taste
Quince for salads – For this dish you peel and remove the core of the quince, cut it into 5 mm slices and cook it in a sirup composed of water, sugar, peppercorns, orange zest, bay leaves, lemon juice and red wine. The resulting soft, sweet quince slices can be added to salads, we love to eat it with our bitter salads like cicorino rosso. Or we enjoy it as a desert, sweet with some crème fraîche. The sirup is excellent with yogurt and granola or on vanilla ice cream. (This recipe is from Ottolenghi’s Plenty)
400 ml Water
300 g Sugar
15 Black peppercorns
4 Strips of orange zest
2 bay leaves
Juice of half a lemon
200 ml Red wine
Recipes I have yet to try:
Quinces Preserved in Honey – this appears to be a slow-cooked jam with honey. Will try this next year.
Quince gnocchi with hazelnut sauce – Quittengnocchi an Haselnussbutter. The recipe is in German, but well worth a Google Translate, this gnocchi recipe sounds awesome. Some quince will be added to the potatoes and flour mix.
Main Photo by Simon Blackley