Admittedly they look like a lumpy misshapen pear with peach fuzz all over them. The can also be quite astringent so really have to be cooked to be enjoyed. But what I love most about them is the smell. If you have never smelt quinces then I would describe the smell as a sweet spicy and musky smell. Imagine pears poached in a spiced syrup and you get the idea. Historically quinces were used to fragrance rooms (as well as all the other uses) and if you place a bowl of them in a closed room for the day you come back to a spicy scent that you can not quite identify until you remember the quinces.
Just like their cousins apples and pears, quinces are in season during Autumn. I asked my green grocer to order some in for me and they were only $3.99kg. Quinces store well so I ordered a few kilos. I use quinces in a few different ways. I use them in tagines when cooking Middle Eastern and North African dishes, in deserts and I also like to make a big batch of quince paste to last the next 12 months.
Quince paste is really quite easy to make and in comparison to buying it it is also very cheap. Quince paste keeps well so you can easily make a years supply when they are in season. Quince paste is also one of those thing that is always appreciated as a gift especially by cheese lovers. You need to set aside a day where you can make this as it cooks long and slow.
2 kg Quinces
1.2 kg Sugar
Juice of 2 Lemons
2 Vanilla Pods
Wash the fur off the quinces, peel and discard the skin. Quater them and cut out the hard cores placing the cores in a large saucepan with 300 gms of sugar and 2 litres of water. Bring the cores to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 2 hours.
|Coring the fruit|
|The pot with the cores|
In another saucepan add all the flesh from the fruit with the remaining sugar, vanilla pods, lemon juice and 3 litres of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 hours or until the fruit is soft and pink. Then discard the vanilla pods.
|Cooking the flesh|
Meanwhile remove the cores from their liquid and discard the cores. This liquid is full of pectin and also needs to be reduced to a thick syrup
|The now pink quince flesh|
What are your your thought on quinces?
Do you make your own quince paste.