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10 November 2008

quince

quince
Link
As much as I love food, and have spent the last few years joyfully exploring, I still find new bites each season.

Quince.

Before a week ago, I had never eaten fresh quince. Quince paste? Yes. The faintly sweet, wobbly jelly that most people eat with Manchego has been one of my favorite discoveries of the past few years. It tastes delicate and decadent at the same time. Quince paste, for me, calls up the image of adults sitting around talking, hands leaning into the space above the table, the conversation compelling. But underneath the discussion, each one is having a private moment of joy, that first taste of childhood gummy candy made mature.

(Jujubees never tasted this good.)

Quince paste, easy enough to make, seems ornate, something beyond our reach. But of course, in the Middle East and southern Europe (Spain in particular), quince paste is part of normal life. I love that the world has shifted, that we know each other a little better these days.

But quince? The actual fruit? Nope. It seemed too daunting to dare it. Mostly because the fruit really cannot be eaten raw. It must be gently heated, or vigorously roasted, in order to make it edible. When in doubt, grab an apple instead.

Last week, we were at Sosio's, our fruit stand in the Market. Our friend Mark pointed out his favorite fruits of the moment, slipping us figs and pointing to the pears. My eyes landed on the greenish-yellow fruits. "Quince?" I called out to the Chef.

"Why not?"

Most discoveries come from banal moments, after all.

When he put roasted delicata squash before me, I found slices of luminous green. What?

"Why does this squash taste like apple?"

"Because it's quince."

Oh. Oh!

Those roasted slices tasted like crisp apples, with a faint perfume of pears. Here's the strangest part, for me. I only smelled the perfume in my mouth.

I want more.

Now, the question is: what do you do with quinces? I'm sure we'd all like to know.

42 Comments:

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Diane said...

I do a couple of things...
1. Poach it with spices or rose geranium in a simple syrup and serve as compote.
2. Make quince/apple pies.

 
At 11:06 AM, Blogger milhan said...

I'd sure like to know too, I have never eaten quince. I've never eaten persimmons either - and lately I have been spying my neighbor's persimmon tree with great interest!

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger shady charbonnet said...

I like to mix up my fresh strawberry preserves with a variety of flavors so each jar has a slightly different personality. I always do one with a little quince paste and vanilla.

(My other favorite add-ins are lavender/vanilla, orange zest/bourbon, and black pepper!)

 
At 11:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yesterday I posted a *delicious* recipe for quince with cranberry and pearl onions in a compote- perfect for Thanksgiving!

Hilary
www.smorgasbite.com

 
At 11:58 AM, Blogger ByTheBay said...

My favorite thing to do with it is make a quince-apple sauce. The other thing I do is make Gluten-Free Apple-Quince Pie with Pecan-Quinoa Streusel Crumble Topping. Oh man, that is making me hungry just to think about. Maybe I'll make it for Thanksgiving this year.

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger Alina said...

Shauna,
I'd love to offer up some tips, but alas, I cannot...even though I lived for 3 years in beautiful Central California with a quince tree right outside my front door. I had plans to make something with the harvest every year but there were no actual attempts. By the way, I adore the picture in your header! So beautiful.

 
At 12:28 PM, Anonymous La Niña said...

Thanks for the link to the quince paste recipe!

When I grew up in Upstate New York we had a real quince bush- it was over 10 feet tall and had huge quinces. But it baffled my mother and she ignored it in favor of our 150 year old pear tree.

For the past 6 1/2 years I've owned an ornamental quince bush on the island. It grows small, smooth quinces, and it has very sharp barbs that make it difficult to harvest. One year I did get in there with leather work gloves, only to discover that there was a huge seedy center and not a lot of fruit. But since I've been a fan of my food mill lately- I think it's time to harvest again...

This time I think quince paste is in order. But next year I will save some of my apples and make a quince-apple fruit roll... maybe with a touch of rosemary and maple syrup.

 
At 12:49 PM, Blogger LeAnne said...

I have never tried fresh quince - surprising since I am Mark's (from Sosios) sister and he has yet to slipped a quince in my produce bag! Now I will request it!

The best quince paste I've had was in a Hawaiian wedding cake used as the filling between many layers of mango cake. Absolutely wonderful!

 
At 1:40 PM, Blogger Quintessential Amy said...

Chocolate & Zucchini posted about Vanilla Poached Quince last week.
http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2008/11/vanilla_poached_quince.php

 
At 1:53 PM, Blogger Kharina said...

This is a Gordon Ramsay recipe I tried and I kid you not, it's mmm mmm good!
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/recipes/article3037296.ece

 
At 2:07 PM, Blogger Another Outspoken Female said...

I tackled quinces for the first time last year. What a labour of love! Just slicing through them to prepare for cooking seemed arduous enough. Then my first batch of quince paste, stirring molten quincy lava for hours. It is hard a dangerous work. But I think it is worth attempting this alchemical process in the kitchen, just once in a lifetime. The ruby paste is so beautiful and makes an impressive gift.

I was catching up on my "Good Food" (KCRW) podcasts this week and there was a piece on quinces in the market report. The quince jelly sounded appealing.

 
At 2:15 PM, Blogger Emily said...

I used the Japanese/Ornamental Quinces from the bush outside my kitchen window to make Quince Jelly. It has a wonderful perfume. I also tried it in a soup, but that experiment was not a success.

 
At 3:01 PM, Anonymous Sho said...

I have never eaten quince, but I would have to second Leanne's idea. I think it would be great in a cake or a pastry. For some reason, I think it would be a good glaze for roast duck.

Take care,

Shoshannah

 
At 3:06 PM, Blogger Seph said...

oh persimmons!! someone mentioned them in a comment, PLEASE do a post on persimmons. i have a crate of them upstairs brought over from a relative. so delicious. My mother usually makes quince pies/chutney altho i heard (ok this is where things get weird) that you can make a particular kind of jungle juice with them. It sounds yummy quince pinapple, starburst heart candies..etcetc. but i personally havent tried it. i just want to know WHAT college student was like "oh lets add quince to the jungle juice" lol

 
At 4:29 PM, Blogger Bowl of Soul Gal said...

I am Basque, so we love Quince or "membrillo" as it's called in Spain. I love to slice it and serve it with delicious GF crackers along with slices of good Basque cheese from Sheep's milk - it's great to serve at a party!

Zorionak!

 
At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love to preserve them in honey and wine. Peel and core them, then cut them into 8 wedges. Put them into a slow-cooker with (for every 4 quinces), 8 oz of honey and 1/2 cup of wine. Turn the slow-cooker to low and let them cook for 6-8 hours, until they turn a deep, dark maroon. They will smell sparkly, like they're carbonated, almost. Deeeelicious.

 
At 5:42 PM, Blogger Karen said...

If I get a chance, I usually make a quince tart. It's one of my favorite fruits; it's too bad, we only get it a few months out of the year!

 
At 6:42 PM, Anonymous Annie said...

Deborah Madison has some great ways to use quinces in SAVORY WAY. My favorite is a spiced cranberry quince sauce which has become a Thanksgiving tradition at our house.

 
At 8:17 PM, Blogger Moj said...

I had never heard of quince(s?) until I came across a candle by Henri Bendel a few years ago--it's my favorite. A little spendy but totally a great treat. Now I'm inspired to try to fruit...

 
At 10:10 PM, Blogger Daniela said...

we use them as a potsticker filling, cooked down with spices, pureed. with a chestnut dipping sauce. or they are wonderful with maple syrup...

 
At 1:42 AM, Blogger The Five Nomads said...

We lived in Azerbaijan for several years where they even ate them raw -umm, not for me. But, they do make a lovely compote with them and quince/apple sauce is nice too.

 
At 3:11 AM, Anonymous kimberly said...

Right now, I have three quinces from Farm Mair-Taki in a basket on our kitchen counter. Each time I walk past, I pick one up and inhale deeply.

I've used quince in paradise butter, a fruit butter made from apple, quince and cranberries. (I don't have the patience for jelly.) I think I'll add the ones in the kitchen now to a cardamom-spiced pear-cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving.

 
At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Eunice said...

you could slice the quince, put the slices in honey, seal the jar, and about 6 months later, enjoy quince tea (just a spoonful of quince-flavored honey in a mug of hot water).

i'm sure this would be good with other additions like ginger and cinnamon.

 
At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Erin said...

I love Sosio's, those guys are great. That is a place I feel comfortable asking them to tell me what to get. I'm never sorry.

 
At 7:48 AM, Blogger Courtney said...

I only know quince from membrillo, but since your post all I can think of is "The Owl and the Pussycat" where they dine on quince with a runcible spoon (by the light of the moon!)

 
At 1:53 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

I had a quince in the fridge, ready to try C&Z recipe for vanilla poached quince...alas, my boyfriend thought it was a pear and cut it up as a snack. Worst part is, he actually ATE the whole thing before telling me that the pear I bought at the store wasn't that good!

 
At 1:56 PM, Anonymous beyond said...

first you should leave them out in a bowl for a few days and let their heavenly aroma make you happy...

 
At 2:22 PM, Blogger nm said...

I made jam, I made jelly and my mom just dropped off a quince stew with chicken for dinner.

The quince stew is an Iranian recipe. Delish.

 
At 2:43 PM, Blogger Dana said...

Everything written about quinces says they're never eaten raw. But I LOVE them raw, especially if I can find a delectably perfumed quince -- just peel and slice into thin crescents.....oh, lovely.

Also, I make a "khoresh-e beh ba polou," a Persian quince stew served with saffron-flavored basmati, or "dom-siah" (black tailed rice), if you can find it. First the aroma and then the tast take you a ride on a culinary magic carpet ride. As they say in Farsi, "bah bah" (delicious)!!

 
At 3:19 PM, Anonymous La Niña said...

Do you know about this wonderful British blog- Cottage Smallholder? I bookmarked her site when I found the wild Damson plums and I wanted to make plum gin... She has a great post on ornamental quinces (we have the Japonica) and many options:
http://www.cottagesmallholder.com/?p=826

A commenter suggested quince jelly and pork. I'm getting hungry.

 
At 4:40 AM, Blogger Sus & co said...

my husband is from argentina and one of their best desserts is a thin spongy cake that must be baked in a jelly roll pan - it's only ~1/2" thick. the quince paste is spread on that and then a layer of dulce de leche goes on top of the paste. then you roll the cake so you get little pinwheels. they are delicate and delicious! we assemble our own by buying all of the ingredients from a store near boston that sells argentinian foods, but i think all but the dulce de leche would be easy enough to make...

 
At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Shana Hillman said...

I made a quince and dried sour cherry compote with one pod of cardamom to lightly spice it. It's HEAVEN.

 
At 2:09 PM, Blogger Liz said...

I don't know yet but I had to buy one at the market today because of this post and Tea's post over at Tea and Cookies. It will be my first quince!

 
At 10:50 PM, Blogger Tassiegal said...

Quince is lovely lightly poached in sugar syrup.

 
At 6:45 PM, Blogger Susan said...

Thanks for this post. I have a one hundred year-old quince tree in my backyard - still fruiting annually - and all I've ever done is make jelly. Time to get adventurous!

 
At 9:25 AM, Blogger annie said...

quince paste, plain and simple, is a staple in this household. for me, at least... we discovered one night with a fancy cheese plate at a fancy restaurant that my darling partner is allergic to quince!!!! his tongue got numb and tingly and his throat threatened to swell. so we have two food allergies in this household: gluten for me, quince for him!

 
At 2:10 AM, Blogger Alexandra said...

I make quince marmalade a la David Lebovitz and use it in his easy jam tart recipe on his website. I also recently made candied quince to put in my Christmas panforte using the recipe in the Tartine (San Francisco bakery)cookbook.

 
At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i just wanted to comment on how beautiful your quince photograph is. very impressionistic

 
At 9:56 PM, Blogger Julia said...

In 'How to Eat', the lovely Nigella talks a lot about quinces. Apparently posh English ladies used to put them in their lingerie draws to keep them smelling fresh, which seems like a grand idea to me, I love the smell of quinces. I often make her recipes for quinces poached in port with cinnamon and served with lots of double cream. It really is divine. They have such a unique flavour, both delicate and rich.

 
At 5:48 PM, Anonymous Jenn Jenn said...

Every fall our neighbor across the street, too overwhelmed with the rest of his harvest to care, offers up the entire bounty of his quince tree to my partner and I. Such a treat to see baskets piled high with the fuzzy golden fruits. In late summer and early fall we visit the tree to check the progress of the fruit. Reliabley we always find one or two on the ground with a bite out of it, a passerby confusing the fruit for pears and getting instead a rock hard sour shock to their senses.

I make quince sauce with the girth of the harvest. Peal and core them (reserving the peel to cook with the fruit).

I also store some in our shed in a box filled with sawdust because quince keep quite a while if they aren't dinged up.

My favorite thing to make though is a quince tart. The bright orange quince slices glazed in a quince syrup reduction glissens and hides a layer underneath of almond paste made with coconut milk, suger, and eggs.

Oh quince...

 
At 4:43 AM, Blogger Katya Kosiv said...

i love quince jam. and lucky for me, my mom spent the beginning of her retirement making batches of this stuff. see, she's from argentina and can't resist the stuff either! oh and gf of course

 
At 11:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is something about the delicate fragrance of a pineapple quince that makes me weep. I will often buy a perfect quince to smell it. But then I make some quince-apple combo, making sure to cut the quince up much smaller than the apple pieces. Quince is very hard.

Thanks ByTheBay for the great idea.

 

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