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…
Yields a generous quart
- quince (enough for 2 cups of purée)
- a little water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups whipping cream
- Halve & core the quince. Cook them with a little water until soft 20 to 30 minutes
- Put through food mill. Measure 2 cups.
- 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.
- Process in blender until very smooth. Add the whipping cream and mix quickly.
- 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