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I'm not sure I'd ever met one in the flesh before, but there they were on offer with the veg box, so I ordered some. They're bigger than I expected. That's 750g of fruit - yes, just two of them.


They're reputed to be like pears but harder and more bitter. This is what you see when you cut one open - which, incidentally, is hard work, about as much as cutting a butter-nut squash.

Yes, a lot like pears, but not so much "bitter" as "dry", in both sense. No juice, and no sweetness. No real acidity, either.

So I chopped, peeled, cored, and cubed, ending up with 560g after wastage, ready to turn the lot into Quince Jelly - or, being into historical things, and having the Four and Twenty Blackbirds around to advise, 17th century Quince Marmalade.

"Let your quinces be full ripe, boil them till they are quite tender, drain and sift them as usual; reduce the marmalade (on the fire) to a paste-consistence, stirring continually, accord­ing to the quantity of quince-marmalade; refine a pound of sugar to three quarters of quinces; mix them together on a very flow fire without boiling, put it into what form you please directly, and dry as usual."

"Sift" means to push it through a sieve. In fact I used a processor, since life is too short.

They turn red when boiled, and take abut an hour or so to go soft


Then I mixed with the same weight of sugar as of quince (about 500g), using jam sugar since we had some. Heated slowly and gently, stirring and letting it "glop" a bit. It had to stand and go cold part-way through (had to go shopping), and the surface at least was setting nicely when we got back. A little more heating and glopping, and the bottom of the saucepan stayed clear for a moment when stirring, so that was about good enough. I foil-lined a baking sheet, and poured it in.

It's setting nicely, and spending the night in the fridge should finish it off. Then I can chop it into squares ready to serve. If I get 50 pieces out of that, they'll be one WW Point each.

Incidentally, should one be tempted to apply fingers to wipe out the last bits from the saucepan, bear in mind that something that's 50% sugar, even if only "glopping" rather than boiling, is quite hot. Well worth the burnt fingers, though.

(What, no tag for fruit: quince???
More surprisingly, no tag for jam/marmalade, either)



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 11th, 2012 11:47 pm (UTC)

Interesting. I've seen them in the store, but never bought one.

What I wanted to do this summer (but didn't) was to make Orange, Grapefruit, lemon (also known as "3 fruit Marmalade) and add kumquats and limes...

Nov. 12th, 2012 12:32 am (UTC)
I bought a few and poached them in a vanilla bean syrup like you'd do with pears. Delicious. My favourite use way to eat them is in the form of the jam (bought commercially) as a dip for vegetable samosas.
Nov. 12th, 2012 01:16 am (UTC)
What is special about jam sugar? I've never heard of it, but it might have made my one jam foray somewhat easier.

I've only made jam once, and it was such a hot, nasty messy job I swore I would never do it again (middle of summer in inland Los Angeles when the AC has gone on the fritz is NOT the time to make jam).
Nov. 12th, 2012 01:37 am (UTC)
Jam sugar has added pectin, so things set more easily.
Nov. 12th, 2012 02:58 am (UTC)
i've never seen them before! i know my semi-dwarf pear trees are grafted on quince stock to increase their northern hardiness, and that was the extent of my quince knowledge. interesting to see the similarity and difference to pears. didnt know they turned red when cooked! thank you for sharing!
Nov. 12th, 2012 07:15 am (UTC)
I love quinces so much, I planted a quince tree by my last house. Luckily you can easily get them in Turkish shops in Germany, so I don't need to go that far over here.
Have you ever tried making quince cheese? I made some a couple of weeks ago. I add about 90% of the weight of the quince puree in sugar, plus the juice of a lemon, and then cook it much longer than you did here. It gets this really dark purplish brown. I think in the end I had it on the hob in my teflon pan on the lowest setting for 20 hours (with a nighttime break since I didn't fancy waking up to jam smoke). Needs hourly stirring at this stage.
Tastes marvelously fruity.
Nov. 12th, 2012 07:33 am (UTC)
No, I never have. Next time I have 20 hours to spend stirring.. maybe I'l order more quinces and give it a go.
Do you reckon that might work if I substituted sweetener for some of the sugar? I'd really like to keep calories/Weightwatcher points down if possible.
Nov. 12th, 2012 07:37 am (UTC)
Yeah, it is a bit of a labour of love. I'm not sure about sweetener, since I never use it, but I usually eat this in very small doses with manchego cheese so the calories don't bother me that much.
Nov. 13th, 2012 04:15 pm (UTC)
Quince and manchego is awesome!
Nov. 13th, 2012 04:19 pm (UTC)
I've had that combination in very expensive restaurants, and enjoyed it. I think I may have to get in some manchego for Xmas.
Nov. 12th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
Nov. 12th, 2012 04:50 pm (UTC)
oh yum! I love quince jam with cheese - delicious!
Nov. 12th, 2012 07:31 pm (UTC)
I LOVE quince! I've never tried to make anything with the fresh fruit myself, knowing how labor intensive it is. When I was in the Peace Corps my host mother would make a fantastic quince jam with chunks of fruit in it, which she would then use to fill crepes. So good!
Nov. 17th, 2012 01:41 pm (UTC)
I use quince in traditional Christmas pudding. This is traditionally started just after our Thanksgiving here (fourth Thursday in November), and commercial quince does not usually appear until later (in the very few stores where it appears at all), I've had to go a-hunting for it every year. This year's quince hunt took me to a fruit farm a good drive from me. A day later, I learned that two people in my own town grow the tree as an ornamental, and just throw away the fruit. Next year I will buy it from them. :)

Raw quince, as you've discovered, is very hard. I caution people to use a sharp knife, to prevent injury from slippage. (Learnt the hard way.) If it's plentiful and cheap where you are, you can be casual about cutting it up. It's not for most of us, though, and so I recommend carefully trimming it, to get as much as possible. The core is poorly differentiated, compared even to an apple, so this takes some extra work. Very few quince recipes call for shaped portions. Most call for it to be minced, mashed, or reduced, and the few that do call for chunks call only for small ones. So don't worry about all the bits.

Raw quince has a slight perfume to it, not dissimilar from pear, but not much else, and not much flavour. Cooking, however, releases a wondferful flavour and aroma. As it's so dense, this takes some patience. I mince it and use it in pudding, with many other ingredients, but I've used the extra (I always get more than I need, just in case) for jam or, once, wonderful cobbler-style candied sauce with chunks that we put over homemade French vanilla ice cream.

Bit o' lore: There's strong suspicion among many classicists that the 'apples' we know of from myth and legend may well be quince. Quince is an Old World fruit of the Eastern Mediterranean, common where most of these stories originated. 'Apple' is often taken in these contexts not as a single distinct fruit, but more in the manner of European 'corn' -- a more general term describing any firm, round fruit. (The French for 'tomato,' for example, pomme du terre, literally means "apple of the earth.") The very word 'quince' is distantly derived from a Roman expression referring to a particular type of "apple".
Nov. 17th, 2012 02:05 pm (UTC)
Lots of info there - thanks! Our Xmas puddings are already made, but I'll remember that for next year.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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