My friends have a quince tree! I have never seen a quince, nor eaten one. All I know about them is that the Owl and the Pussycat ate them with a runcible spoon. However, on the reliable information that they can be poached, and with half a dozen quinces straight off the tree, I had a go at making my own autumnal dessert.
These are freshly washed quinces. They're naturally a little fuzzy, but you can rub the fuzz off easily with the damp cloth. I ended up leaving them on the side for a few days before poaching them, and I kept picking them up to smell them. There's a lovely mellow nectar-y smell about them.
So, poaching quinces. For every 2lbs of quince, you will need:
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of honey
- Any of the following you fancy: Cinnamon (sticks if possible, but ground will work), Ginger, Vanilla (essence or pods), Cardamom.
- A Very Big Saucepan
1) Peel, core and quarter the quinces. They've got a woody texture so this will require strong arms! Remove any blemishes or bits you don't like the look of. Pop the slices into water so they don't get oxidised too much, which will make them go brown.
2) Make the poaching syrup. Put all your other ingredients into your saucepan with 4 cups of water, bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer it until all the sugar has dissolved. You can then put your quince slices in and leave it to it's own devices for the next 50 mins or so. Put a bit of baking paper over the pan, or half-cover it with the lid - this will keep the heat in while still letting steam out, because we want the syrup to reduce down.
The smells that will start to emanate from that pan are absolutely heavenly. You'll know it's done when between 1/3 and 1/2 of the liquid has evaporated away, and the quinces have gone from woody and yellow to tender and pink.
Look at the gorgeous colour of that syrup! Honestly, the syrup was almost my favourite part. The quinces are now soft but still a little fibrous in texture, not quite like an apple but still very delicious. While they were still warm I had them with ice cream, swimming in syrup. Heavenly.
I've got a box in the fridge (it'll keep for about a week) that I'm mixing with plain unflavoured yoghurt - the yoghurt and syrup don't mix well together and it looks very messy, but tastes absolutely great. Normally I'd add a little honey to the yoghurt, but with the fruit and syrup already so sweet I don't have to. The rest of it I've frozen for use in crumble later on. Any spare syrup can be used in drinks as a cordial in drinks, or reduced into an even thicker syrup to drizzle on cakes
So glad I did this! I wonder if my friends will give me any more...