What To Do With Quinces

Isn’t that what you are asking yourself?

You are not?



you know, quince is not a very popular fruit nowadays. And really it is a shame, because nothing else has it piquant aromatic floral taste… pineapple, jasmine, guava and sweet vanilla, with a hint of clove. Some even say that it was quince that Eve offered Adam…

On Monday, just before work, I stopped by Jenkins Orchard in Woodville. Inquiries made in the summer revealed that yes, they had some quince. Yes, they should have them in the fall. Yes, they were picking them when ripe. Not too many people ask for them. But “the old timers like to preserve them”. The “old-timers” and the French lady, I guess…

They were custom picked. I had to wait while somebody went to pick my order – that’s how few people ask for them! I did not mind waiting among the bins of apples and the baskets of pears, watching customers debate which apples would be best for apple sauce or which ones they wanted to turn into a pie. But wait I did – which gave me the opportunity to quizz Mr Jenkins on the pears for sale (I got a peck of pears too).

But the quince… They are lovely. For one, they are ripe. None of that immature, fuzzy fruit which needs to sit for weeks so they ripen – and half of them rotting in the process – which is what happened to me last year. Not those: yellow, firm and balanced in the hand, fragrant on the nose, and almost edible raw (I tasted – almost palatable, but still a little tannic and rough…). Yes, I have been told by jp that fully ripe quince is quite tasty raw. He ought to know, growing quince in Portugal. We – however – don’t very much see quince in Virginia, let alone fully ripe – but those are probably as good as we can hope for. So I got half a bushel (approx 10-12 kg), figuring I would have some fun with them.

And indeed, I have had so much fun actually that I am going back to Jenkins for another half bushel.

So what to do with quince? Here, you pretty much have to cook them. Cooking is what release their fragrance, mellowing them into a whole different fruit: delicate, sweet and tart, slightly redolent of spicy cloves, vanilla and cinnamon. You certainly can mix them with your apple sauce and into your apple pies. But why not feature them as the star? So here are some ideas:

Baked quince. Halved, cored (sliced if you want) and baked with some sugar – 250F for 3 hours. A very nice dessert served as is, with yogurt, whipped cream, or ice-cream. The slices are delightful with buckwheat pancakes at breakfast. It’s amazing how that slow cooking make quince unctuous and aromatic.

Quince tart. Your favorite crust, a layer of apple sauce or quince sauce, finely sliced overlapping quince, 30 to 40 minutes at 350F. Serve with a dessert wine or green tea. Will do at breakfast too. If you must.

Quince tatin. That I have not done yet, but I will.

Quince liqueur. Now steeping in grain alcohol. In mid to late November, it’ll be time to filter, add the sugar and bottle. I am guessing I’ll have to wait another 3 months at least after that. Probably 6.

Quince jam. One of my favorite, both for the rosy color and the aroma. Good on toast. Excellent with hard or blue cheese.

Quince paste. That I have not done yet, but I do very much like pâte de coing, so methink I’ll make a batch with the next 1/2 bushel. Saveur Magazine has a recipe which I want to try here. I like that they are not using just the juice from the fruit like so many other recipes I have seen, but the pulp too.

Quince sauce. Pretty much little jam, except that very little sugar is added. I think I will do a version without any sugar. It’ll be great as a side for rich meat like duck, lamb or venison.

Sautéed Quince Slices. Perfect with lamb chops. Would be good with venison roast too.

– and finally… Quince Ice-Cream. Which I made as my standard fruit ice-cream recipe in regards with proportions: 2 cups puréed fruit, one cup sugar, 2 cups whipping cream. The recipe follows.

-and for more ideas, please check jp’ s “La cuisine du jardin”. Most articles are both in French and in English. He’s got quite a few ideas for quince. Me… I don’t have boar, but I assure you that quince and lamb go really well together. It is the season…

Happy quincing.

Quince Ice-Cream

Yields a generous quart

  • quince (enough for 2 cups of purée)
  • a little water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  1. Halve & core the quince. Cook them with a little water until soft 20 to 30 minutes
  2. Put through food mill. Measure 2 cups.
  3. Put into a pan with 1 cups sugar and cook on low heat stirring occasionally to prevent scorching for about 15 minutes until the sauce starts to be slightly sticky.
  4. Process in blender until very smooth. Add the whipping cream and mix quickly.
  5. Chill. Process in ice-cream maker.

This is a very rich tasting ice-cream with a lovely color – like the palest peach ice-cream. Serve with a few baked quince slices, or quince tart, or quince tatin (or even apple tatin). A little goes a long way.

Locavore log: quince, cream


26 thoughts on “What To Do With Quinces”

  • et donc la prochaine fois que tu nous rendras visite, tu pourras gouter la liqueur de coings et la confiture de coings! Et si tu viens en automne, toutes les autres recettes….

  • oh, I love them, but always have a hard time peeling them…though I wonder if they were the underripe ones you mention. I got them at a farmers’ market. I’ll try again and hope for riper quinces.

  • Moi aussi j’aime bien le coing. Son arôme dans la cuisine est un pur délice !
    Originale cette recette de glace !
    Sinon, côté jardinage, pour répondre à ta question, j’ai réussi à faire pousser des petits citronniers… Un début très encourageant pour moi !

  • hello – it’s harvest-time for the quinces here in
    the Turkish Aegean where i live…i’mmaking a big quince crumble for a friend’s wedding tommorow. The locals also cut them up in thin slices and dry them for winter eating…i throw slices of quince in with sauteed chicken livers and onion as it lightens and perfumes the heaviness of the dish….cheers marita

  • aussi, c’est bon, jp.
    N’est ce pas que le plat est beau? Il m’a ete donne par une de mes clientes, en cadeau de remerciement pour avoir prepare une fete pour son marriage. C’est une artiste et j’avais bien admire les bols et les plats qu’elle m’avait demande d’utilises (et qu’elle avait fabriques elle meme). J’y tiens beaucoup…

  • I use quince to make membrillo ( Mexican quince paste)I looked over the recipe from Saveur Magazine and it’s very similar to the one I make. I don’t use pectin when I make the membrillo and use the same amount of sugar as puree.

  • Lyn – I think there are only so many ways to make quince paste, that all the recipes are bound to look very alike. I ended up just using as much sugar as quince puree (volume), and just cooking it very low for several hours, spreading that on a rimmed cookie sheet and drying it in a super slow oven.
    It’s a red as some of paste I ve bought… but it’s also tarter, which I like better. There was no need to use pectin!

  • Great suggestions all, Sylvie. One of my favorite ways to use quince is to make a simple jam or jelly out of it and then grate (with large hole cheese grater) a couple quince and add to mixture, cook until tender. Voila! You have a quince marmalade.

  • Hi, I got some cheap quinces this year outside of a supermarket from who I’m assuming to be a local with an old tree looking to make a few bucks off of cheap bags of fuzzy, green tinged quince. I didn’t know at the time these were ‘unripe’ so went ahead and purchased. Now what do I do? They’ve been sitting here for about a week and a half, and do smell better than before, but how do I know when they are as good as they’ll get? I really want to make ‘confiture de coings’ like I tasted in france- could I ever get to that flavor caliber with my fuzzy picking fumbles?

  • Hello Lily. There are many different varietal of quince and not knowing the varietal and where you live it’s a little difficult to answer. The quince I am familar with are yellow when ripe – but still too astringent to eat raw. They will still be OK when mostly yellow (but are better fully ripe). However, quinces can develop brown rot and are subject to fireblight (and the fruit get brown spots as it sits ripening), so it’s your call when you want to start cooking them. All I can say is try. Same with your jam! Who knows what quince cultivar was used in that French jam? but I have made jam and paste with the quinces I can get here in Virginia (as well as with Japanese Quince which most people consider ornamental only) and we enjoyed them. So try and come back to tell us how it worked!

  • I live in Southern California and have about 15+ yellow quince fruits on the bush out back, some a bit green and some with a few little brown spots. I tried slicing into one a few years back and it was extremely bitter. So my question is: Do I just cook them in a sauce pan with sugar? Sounds like some folks don’t mind the bitterness and just sautee them. I’m into simplicity. Not a real chef at all. But I hate to see them go to waste. They are lovely and smell nice. Can you give me a really simple recipe?

  • Hi Victoria, If your quinces grow on a bush, they are likely Japanese Quince (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaenomeles). They are very astringent when raw. I make jam with it – a lovely color and tart & sweet as the same time, lovely on toast or with cheese.

    Remove any bad spots, halve the fruit to make sure they is no mold or caterpillar inside, put them in a large non-reactive pan and cover totally with water (no need to peel or seed). Bring to boil then simmer until easily pierced. Process through a food mill: the pulp goes down, the pips and other hard bits stay up. Weight the puree, and add equal weight of sugar, and a little water if really thick. Put back in pan, bring to boil, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Continue boiling until the color is a deep red and the jam gels – 15 minutes or so, stirring often. Then process as you would normally process your jam.

    I love Japanese quince jelly, have already made one batch and have more quince waiting for a second batch.

  • I have been chasing after quince for years. My neighbor in Wellesley,MA had a tree in her garden but she collected them as they fell, usually after a first frost. I had to cajole her into letting me have a few. Then in Virginia I discovered a tree at Ellwood on the Wilderness battlefield in Orange County, but they cut the old tree down. Some years I could buy them at Food of all Nations in Charlottesville. Finally this year I discovered Jenkins in Woodville. I used some in a Greek recipe with pork,onion and cinnamon. I will bake some and make jelly. October 2010.

  • I picked up some quince at the farmer’s market and had NO idea what to do with it. I am so excited with your suggestions. I’m going to try your slow roasted suggestion, or maybe a sauce to go with tonight’s roast chicken. Thanks for the great ideas!

  • Such a good blog on Quince. I don’t think Mississippi has Quince..but we have Mayhaw (which is a May apple fruit tree that comes from a Haw tree) thus Mayhaw and the jelly tastes similar to any Quince jelly I have eaten.

  • Interesting to learn that traditional method inTurkey is to dry quinces for use in winter.
    I’ve tried slicing fruit thinly only using knife – box grater slicer was too thin + would’ve taken forever & haven’t mandolin always seems risky…
    Layered in bowl with sprinkles of raw sugar in between.
    Final layer squeeze lemon juice + pulp over. Cover bowl with plate & leave for 48 hours.
    Then place in dehydrator, sprinkle with mixed spice & dry for 10-12 hours at 58*C .
    My mum commented, “They’re better than dried apples!”
    We also both use our Instant Pots using only 1 cup water, 1/4 tsp each salt & bicarb soda, star anise & 2 allspice berries. Pressure Cook on High 0:00 minutes with Natural Release (20+ minutes). Then dissolve 1/2 cup raw sugar in 1 cup water & add to fruit. Switch to Sauté mode to bring fruit to boil & then can put into sterilised jars & lids will vacuum seal from heat.

  • Hi Susan, thanks for sharing those quince ideas. And especially the dehydrating recipe. I saw something similar that a Hunan (China) blogger posted using Chinese quince (not the same as Japanese quince – I looked it up). She dried them in the sun though. I like dry apples slices and I like quince, so will definitively has to try them this fall. PS Mandolin can take some getting use to it, and it’s better with non-brittle produce. Quince can be brittle and not slice through neatly. Sylvie

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