Poached Quince and Quince Compote

October 28, 2010 § 1 Comment

Years ago, one autumn day, while in my in-laws garden I saw a funny looking fruit. I asked my husband what kind of weird apple it was.  He replied that it wasn’t an apple but a quince! I had never seen a quince before and the name sounded only remotely familiar. Like an echo from some old English rhyme I had heard as a kid. I went to go and try one. They looked ripe and smelled heavenly sweet. Julien quickly stopped me. Quince are too hard and sour to eat raw. Later that day, Julien had me try some of his mother’s homemade quince jelly. It immediately became one of my favorites.

To enjoy the delicious sweet taste of the quince you have to be ready for some work. Quince have to be cooked to become edible and before this, their hard body has to be cut and cored with a good sharp knife. The fruit puts up a good fight, but are well worth it for their unusually perfumed taste.

After many years of enjoying Simone’s quince jelly, I decided this year to try my own hand at making some. A neighbor had given us a crate of quince and Simone’s own tree had enjoyed an incredibly successful year. What I first thought was about 20 lbs of quince turned out to be over 40 lbs! For the last three days, we reduced just about all of it into jelly, fruit jelly candy, quince conserve, quince compote and one very yummy quince cake.

Preparing Quince

Quince are covered in a soft fuzz that must be removed before cooking. Do not wash your quince! If you do, you will end up with a sticky mess. The best way to remove the fuzz is to rub it off with a dishtowel. If your fruit comes from an un-sprayed tree, you are good to go. Other wise only attempt to rinse your quince once the fuzz has been removed.

If you have just a few quince…

Then I would suggest poaching them. Poached quince makes a delicious breakfast served with granola and/or yoghurt, dessert served with crème anglaise or side served with ham, game meat, duck or cheese.

I looked at a number of poached quince recipes on the internet and noticed that they ranged from cooking times of 5 minutes to 3 hours! I think that the difference in cooking time has to do with bringing out the color and flavor of the quince?? I will never know because I poached the quince for 30 minutes in a regular pot. They turned out delicious. We also poached the quince again for ten minutes. They were also delicious! The color of the quince was not as deep, but they were still good to eat. The lesson is, know that don’t let time stop you from making this recipe.

Poached Quince

4.5 lbs, approx. 9 small/medium quince

8 cups water

¾ cup un-refined sugar

*I did one batch with the additional touch of one opened vanilla bean and another batch with 3 additional star anise… both blend well with the quince. I am sure that ginger or cinnamon would be good too.

After removing the fuzz from the quince (see above), peel off the skin (preferably) with a soft skin peeler or a vegetable peeler. See soft skin peeler here. Quarter and remove the core of the quince as you would do for an apple. Cut into wedges, about three per quarter. Quince are quite hard and this can be tricky. I wore a cloth oven mit on my holding hand to protect it from being cut by the knife.

In a large pot, add the water and sugar. Bring to a boil. When the sugar has dissolved, lower the heat to a simmer and add your spice and quince. Cook at a gentle simmer until the quince are easily pierced. The sweeter you want them the longer you cook them. Honestly, 30 minutes seemed to be more than enough. Remove the lid for the last 10 minutes to evaporate the liquid a bit.

The quince can be be kept for a week in the fridge. * My kids like to add the sweetend quince juice to some sparkling water for homemade soda.

You can keep the quince this way for a month if you…

Just after cooking, while they are still hot, pour the quince with its liquid into sterilized jars. Tightly screw on the lids of the jars and place them upside down. Keep this way until they are cool. Running jars through the dishwasher is how I sterilize my jars. I talk more about this method here.

To make quince compote

4.5 lbs, approx. 9 small/medium quince

1/2 cup water or orange juice

2 TBS or CC  sugar or another sweetner. (Try this to start, you can add more sweetner at the end to taste. Quince is rathe tart, so some sweetner is neccessary.)

(Optional) spices, see suggestions above.

Peel, quarter and remove the core as you would an apple. Cut each qurter and add to a pot with the water or juice, the sweetner and/or one or none of the above mentioned spices. Cover the pot and cook at a stong simmer for 15 minutes. Be careful to not let the quince burn. Go light on the sweetener in the beginning, you can always add more in the end. Occasionally stir and add water if necessary. Leave it chunky or remove the ‘whole’ spices and blend with an immersion blender. Make it as sweet or as tart as you like!

If you have a quince tree, find a good deal at the farmers market or have a nice neighbor that has supplied you with over 5 lbs of quince, then I would try making some delicious quince jelly and jelly candy. Post to come… but until then, check out this juice extractor. I discovered this incredible kitchen gadget this weekend. It made the whole quince jelly making a snap, plus I learned that I could make all sorts of other homemade juice out of it too!

*** Clotilde Dusoulier of the blog Chocolate and Zucchini recently posted a quince cake recipe that is delicious! However, everyone at our table would just reccomend doubling the amount of quince in the cake! http://chocolateandzucchini.com/archives/2010/10/quince_almond_cake.php

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