I love old world fruits. Fruits that have been lost and fruits that have been forgotten like medlars and mulberries. My favourite of these has to be the quince. Quinces are an ancient fruit that grew wild on the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains between Persia and Turkmenistan, throughout history they were carried across ancient trade routes and known across the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean empires of the Greeks and Phoenicians. Until sugar became relatively cheap and easily available quinces were probably the most commonplace orchard fruit throughout Europe 19th century. The fruit is still popular in Middle Eastern cooking, however, it is not always the easiest fruit to find today outside of the region but a revival of interest in cooking circles means that they can be found in a good natural food store or in a farmer’s orchard. I have a quince tree in the garden which I am passionate about, it has the most beautiful pinkish white blossom in the in the Spring and the fruit has the most wonderful scent when mature which in your fruit bowl will easily scent the entire room with its sweet intoxicating aroma.
Quinces are members of the same family as pears and apples but has a very firm flesh and a very bitter taste so it cannot be eaten raw. Quince can be used to make jellies, jams and purees and wonderful with meat dishes like lamb or cheeses but one of my favourite ways to eat quince is to poach them and then roast them as a dessert. As a late autumn fruit its will store relatively well in the fridge and is perfect for serving during Christmas and New Year festivities. Here is a lovely warming recipe for this winter season, it’s a sauce I sometimes also use for poaching very firm pears. Enjoy!
Stewed Baked Quince
- 3 or 4 large quinces
- 6 tbsps agave/honey
- 700ml water
- 8 cloves
- 4 star anise
- 4 tbsp maple syrup/honey
Place the agave/honey and water in a pot and bring to the boil. Put in the spices and let the water simmer for a couple of minutes. Peel your quince and quarter them and then place in the pot and poach them until tender and they turn a slight blush pink colour (25 – 35 mins dependent on the size of the quince pieces).
Once cooked turn out into a baking dish and spoon 200 ml the juice including the spices over the fruit. Add the maple syrup/honey over the fruit and bake for 35 mins at 180 degrees. You can add some lovely dairy free vanilla ice-cream if you wish (lovely) and serve.
I would love to hear about your favourite ways to cook quince or any other usual fruits.
Wishing you all a fantastic start to 2015! xx