Quince, that craggily not yet an apple or a pear fruit that is as hard as a baseball with a bitter, rather tanic taste making it virtually inedible raw is enjoying its short season. Given a bit of time and patience quince can be transformed into something tender and floral to be featured in untold ways.
Quince or Cotogna as it is know in Italian is well know in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and South American countries. The quince tree was also typical of the New England area at one time, standing more or less alone in the orchard. Domestically today, they are grown in California and New York, generally available in ethnic markets.
A centerpiece of quince on your table will perfume the room with the fragrance of ripe apples & pears along with a note of tropical fruit. The bright yellow quince is firm and a bit fuzzy at first, however the fuzz seems to fade away when the quince is at its best.
Quince is high in pectin, making it splendid for jams and preserves which make an excellent addition to any cheese platter; I especially like to serve Quince Preserves with sheep and goat milk cheeses, both the soft and hard variety. Poached Quince accompany yogurt, ricotta, rice pudding or panna cotta quite nicely. Once the quince has been poached it can be used in tarts and cakes. Either the preserves or poached quince compliment roasted or braised meats wonderfully; a compote of sorts.
When planning to can or preserve any fruit there are safety issues to be taken in to consideration and there is no better resource on preserving than Dominica Marchetti’s Preserving Italy – a must have for your culinary library. Dominic’s book is a treasure trove of touching family stories woven with the customs of preserving from a not so distant time. Do take a look at her recipes for Quince Jam and Quince Paste.
Once you prepare both of these autumn staples, I am certain that they will become an annual tradition in your home as well.
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- 1 pound of quince
- 1 cup of sugar, I used vanilla sugar
- ¾ cup fresh water
- Juice from ½ lemon
- ½ vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
- Small piece of cinnamon stick
- 3 cardamon pods
- Wash and dry the quince, cut them into quarters. Using a paring knife remove the core & seeds and then slice the quarters into thirds. Chop the pieces into cubes of about ¾ of an inch.
- Combine the chopped unpeeled quince, lemon juice, water, cinnamon stick, cardamon pods, vanilla pod & seeds into a small saucepan.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Stir occasionally and cook until the quince becomes rosy red in color and quite thick. The jam may become thick before it colors, if so add a bit of water as needed until the jam is red and thick. Allow to cool and pack in prepared jars.
- 2 pound of quince, about 3 large quince
- 2 cups of granulated sugar, I used vanilla sugar
- 6 cups of fresh cool water
- 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
- 4 wide strips of lemon peel
- Combine the sugar and water in a large heavy duty pot (enameled cast iron works well) along with the lemon peel, vanilla pod and vanilla seeds. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved.
- In the meantime prepare the quince by washing and drying. Cut the quince into quarters and remove the core, seeds and any fibrous material. Slice the quarters into ¼ inch slices.
- Add the sliced quince to the prepare infused sugar syrup. Cover the top of the quince with a round of parchment paper weighted down by a plate. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue to simmer until the quince are tender and a rosy red color. Be patient as this could take more than 2 hours. The quince will become tender before they achieve a rosy glow so be sure to keep the flame low, you do not want to make mush of the quince.
- Reserve to sterilized jars and store in the refrigerator. The poached quince may be used to garnish yogurt, gelato, rice pudding, panna cotta or set aside for tarts and cakes.