Our Favorite Recipes Featuring Quince, a Fragrant Fall Fruit
Across cultures and centuries, quince has been known as the fruit of love and fertility. It was cultivated by the ancient Greeks, and is thought to have been the golden apple awarded to Aphrodite for her great beauty. Quince look like a cross between apples and pears, but with funny dimples. They're coated in soft fuzz and their fragrance, when ripe, is floral and lush.
To add to all this romance, warm and exotic spices and aromatics such as cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, and ginger are often used in recipes for cooking quince. They're sometimes simmered in syrups flavored with Sauternes, Riesling, or honey.
As for the practical side of quince: "Not much good my giving advice on choosing quinces. You have to buy what you can find, and be thankful…the quince is a tree to look out for in other people's gardens in case they do not appreciate it, or are willing to share its fruit," said renowned English writer Jane Grigson in Jane Grigson's Fruit Book. Luckily for us, these days quince can be found at many farmers' markets come fall.
The most important thing to know about preparing quince is that they need to be cooked to become palatable and tender. When raw, almost all varieties are hard, sour, and highly astringent. Another thing to note is that quince will ripen at room temperature; in the old days quince were placed in boxes inside dressers and on top of cabinets; they would perfume everything around them as they ripened. Their color evolves, too; if you buy them when pale green, wait a few days for them to become yellow. Their fuzz should be rubbed off, and most often they will be peeled and cored before cooking. Any bruised or rotten spots can simply be cut out. As quince cook, they turn from gold to dusty rose; and eventually glow a vivid, sunset red.
Quince Jelly with Star Anise
Quince have a good amount of natural pectin which allows it to set up well in jams and jellies. This garnet-hued jelly is an elegant accompaniment to chicken liver crostini. You don't have to can it for preserving: Use it quickly or store in the refrigerator for weeks.
Quince Slab Pie
One year, Martha requested a quince-glazed turkey for Thanksgiving, so I simmered the fruit, seeds and all, into a rosy syrup which was brushed on in the final stages of roasting. The bird took on a glorious, burnished look and the sweet-tartness of the glaze.
Fruit butter is a thick spread made from cooking the fruit down until completely soft. This quince butter is delicious spread on bread with cream cheese or butter, or as a condiment for roast turkey or pork.
Quince Soda Syrup
Quince Biscuit Pie
Roasted Pears and Quinces with Tangerines
Brighten your table just as the days are getting shorter with a sweet dish of quince and pears basted in butter and cooked in white wine and the juice of tangerines.