Three Ways With Quince

When I’m bowling along to work on the bike I’ve noticed a street in the next village called The Coigncroft.

I’d like to think it’s a medieval Anglo French place name and that it was where quince trees once grew.

I planted quince trees (Vranja variety) both in my old allotment in Trowse (see pic) and here at Plovers Hill

A bowl of quince are a wonderful fruit that brighten any room with their colour and fragrance.

The deep yellow fruit are covered with an intriguing grey silvery down that washes or rubs off easily to reveal the hard gold coloured waxy skin underneath.

They need cooking as they’re are too hard and bitter to eat raw.

Quince blossom is one of the joys of spring. The pale pink handkerchief-like flowers droop languidly between the new velvety lime green leaves

They can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes and feature extensively in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cookery.

You can roast whole with the skins on, or peel and quarter them.

Be careful with your sharp knife though – they can be tough to keep stable when you make the first cut – a bit like pumpkins.

They turn a deep red if you cook them for a couple of hours at a simmer on a very low heat.

Last week I made a butter bean and quince tagine –  a dish of left overs that also included steamed chopped ruby chard.

I imagine  Moroccan style chickpeas and quince would be good – the lemony tart flavour of the quince replacing the need for, say, preserved lemon or something else acidic to lift and balance the flavours of the dish.

Anyway this year’s crop has been good.

I have made quince vodka – adapted from an old Jane Grigison recipe.

It’s basically a litre of vodka poured over three quite large quince that I grated – skin and all – and 60g caster sugar.

Leave untouched until Christmas except for the occasional shake or inversion and then drink.

 

My friend Steve who came earlier in the year to help me do some gardening says this about quince:

“They are amazing in apple pie. Just one, peeled & cored, and cooked in a light sugar syrup before adding to the apples. The recipe I used had me cook down all the cores and peel with water and sugar and then pass through a sieve to give an amazing amber syrup that was added to the pie filling.”

Don’t throw away the core and peel of the quince you have prepared to cook. Cover with water and cook for a long time on a very low heat and you’ll be left with great quince juice that you can use in the quince cake recipe or sweetened and reduced as a sauce.

I did the same to make the quince cake recipe that I found online from a Serbian cook although I didn’t add sugar – only adding it to the main cake mixture later as per the instructions.

The cake is wonderful –  here is the recipe.

If you don’t have a bundt tin with a hole in the middle – improvise like I did.

I used an upside down greased ramekin in the middle of the cake tin and poured the cake batter around it.

Another thing to make is membrillo – or quince paste.

It will keep for a good year or so.

Be careful when stirring it on the stove as it’s like molten lava and can spit and burn quite badly.

Cool the paste in a greased tray and keep in a tin with a lid

To make quince paste – roast/bake your quinces in the oven making sure to cover them in a large baking tray/dish.

After a couple of hours – when cooked – push through a food mill or mouli with skins and cores.

Weigh the puree and add an equal weight of caster sugar.

Cook in a saucepan for ages stirring with a wooden spoon until your arm drops off!

Then, once it turns a deep red and pulls away from the side of the pan, turn out into a greased tray to cool and set.

Cut into diamonds and dust in sugar and store in layers of greaseproof paper in a tin.

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