The leaves are falling, it's harder to get out of bed, and my hunkering for porridge is at an all-time high, which can only mean one thing, it's quince season (also known as my favourite time of the year). This, my friends, is the narrow eightish-week window where we can get our hands (and knives) on one of the most gloriously delicious yet forgotten fruits. If you're someone who walks past the humble quince every year for a less complicated poached pear or apple, I understand; cooking quinces is a labour of love. But this year's different because I'm going to teach you how to cook quinces without the fuss. Because I'll let you in on a little secret, having a mason jar full of ruby-red, aromatic poached quinces in your fridge really does make life better.
Why I love quinces
While I could chew your ear off all day about my love for quinces, I won't. I promise. But there's a reason I named my business The Quince Creative. Because women in business, like the humble quince, are too often underestimated. At first glance, the quince looks like any other generic fruit on the stand, but add some sugar, aromatics and give it time to poach, stew or bake, and you'll bear witness to something truly magical. Just like a woman in business who's given a chance to thrive.
What is a quince?
While the quince resembles an apple or pear of the same Rosaceae family, they have a distinct flavour and texture (both in its raw and cooked form) that sets them apart. In its raw form, it's quite tough, tannic and slightly sour, which often deters people from buying them. However, cooking the quince, especially for long periods of time with sugar, transforms it into a delightfully sweet and aromatic fruit recognisable by its deep shade of ruby red.
How to cook quince?
Quince can be boiled, roasted, stewed or baked. It's a versatile fruit that lends itself to both sweet and savoury dishes. The most popular way to cook quince is to poach it or boil it down into a jelly or jam. To make poached quince, simply combine 1kg peeled, cored and chopped quince into a saucepan with 1L water, 2 cups sugar with your choice of aromatics and cook over low heat for at least 4 hours until they're a deep red colour.
When are quinces ripe?
In Australia, quince season is typically between March-May (however may extend to August depending on your location). You'll know quince are ripe when they turn yellow and start falling or come easily off the tree. Ripe quince should smell sweet, fragrant and floral. The best thing about quince is you can pick them early as they'll continue to ripen off the tree.
How to eat quince?
You can eat quinces raw, like an apple or pear; however, it does have a less desirable bitter or astringent taste. The best way to eat quince is to cook them, whether a compote, jelly, jam, or poached, baked or roasted. My favourite way to eat quince is by adding the poached fruit to my steaming hot bowl of porridge.
How to make quinces
- Casserole dish or heavy bottomed saucepan
- Baking paper
- 1 kg quince
- 1 litre water
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 star anise
- 1-2 thick slices orange zest
- Peel quinces and cut into quarters. Carefully remove the hard inner core and place the peices into a shallow cast iron casserole dish or heavy-bottomed saucepan
- Add water, sugar, star anise and orange zest to the quinces and cover with a cartouche of baking paper so the fruit is submerged in the liquid.
- Place the pot onto the stove and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover with a lid and cook for 3-4* hours until the quinces are a deep ruby red colour.