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Quince love





I don't remember exactly when, as an adult, I first tasted quince. But I do remember being overcome with an incredibly strong feeling of homey familiarity as soon as that sweet ruby fruit passed my lips, and a vague memory of having tasted it before, as a child.

It was probably at my grandmothers house, who always had some sort of fruit in the fridge that was stewed, you didn't poached fruit back then, you poached eggs and you stewed fruit.  We always had stewed fruit, usually apricots, for sweets (not dessert) after tea (not dinner) with lasings of ice-cream.

It's a feeling that still persists everytime I eat a quince, one of nostalgia, which is one of the reasons I love to eat them.  As well as being enchanted by their flavour and the magical transformation that occurs when you cook them, they're also gorgeous to look at.

I have planted two trees in my garden, and impatiently wait for them to bear fruit.  I have to resist the urge to plant more because I know in only a few years I'll have enough fruit for the whole neighbourhood.  A generous friend let me come and pick as much fruit as I wanted from her eight year old tree. Even after seven families before me had already picked their fill, the tree was still covered in fruit.

We've made quince jam using the recipe from Apples for Jam, and a little quince paste.  But my favourite way to cook them is to peel and quarter a big batch, leaving the core in place, then cover with water add some sugar maybe a vanilla bean, star anise or cinnamon stick, and cook in a slow oven for hours until they turn a lovely shade of deep red.  Leaving the core in place seems to help make the syrup lovely and thick and add a richer quincy flavour.  You can then cut out the core easily from the soft fruit, without any waste, a task that is much more difficult with a hard, raw quince.

I keep a big jar of these in the fridge, just like my grandmother's stewed fruit, to use in tarts, on porridge for breakfast, or on a cake like this buttermilk cake from Heidi's gorgeous new book.  Or they are fine just as they are after tea for sweets, with lashings of vanilla ice-cream.


10 comments:

  1. I'm in the midst of quince-jelly production but I may instead try the jam recipe.

    After my recent quince composting effort (oversupply) I'll also try your baked quince recipe to make amends for such wastage. Still 2 boxes to go!

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  2. we love quinces. we made cuttings from our favourite tree (a Smyrna) 7 years ago. They've taken a while to get going (especially as they were in pots for awhile) but we have four at the block. We also ordered a few more this year from Woodbridge fruit trees. Hopefully our friends like quinces!

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  3. Have to admit I have never eaten a freshly stewed quince.

    Sounds like a good tree to plant. Enjoy the abundance.

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  4. I have quince envy. At our local fruit shed you can only buy them in packs of two! But every year I persist and buy some to poach exactly the way you described. I looooove them.

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  5. I don't think I've ever eaten a quince, but now I really, really want to! That tart looks divine.

    Katie x

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  6. those two cookbooks are on my 'must get book list'

    i even like the word - quince.

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  7. I also had stewed quince with icecream after tea - a long buried memory!
    Thank you
    P.S LOVED the tomato seed story!

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  8. I also had stewed quince with icecream after tea - a long buried memory!
    Thank you
    P.S LOVED the tomato seed story!

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  9. How lucky you are to have a friend who has a tree laden with quinces (and to have two trees of your own)! I tried poached quinces for the first time ever this year and they were utterly delicious - they are definitely going to become an annual ritual.

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  10. Thank you for the information about quince, having seen the fruit occasionally in the store.

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