Friday, November 5, 2010


We have a quince tree in the far corner of our front yard. For several years in the fall a sad looking young woman would come by with her boyfriend in an old truck and would shyly ask me if she might gather the ones that had fallen on the ground. I was happy to give them to her. I’ve missed her these past few years and hope all is well with her.

I’ve fooled with these quinces a few times: they are as hard as rocks and difficult to peel and cut. Nonetheless, they are free food on my property. And, as Deb Duchon said in her terrific blog ( there is nothing more locavore then eating stuff found in your yard.

I decided to roast them in the oven. As they cooked they smelled heavenly, a combination of apple and hibiscus. I skinned them, used a spoon to dig away the flesh from the sizable pit, and mashed them up. It was very sour, but promising. I poured several additions of Vermont maple syrup our friend, Woody, had given us, into the mashed fruit. Then added about a tablespoon of fresh grated ginger and a pinch of salt and whizzed it around with the stick blender.

And now I have a wonderful brightly flavored fruit pureé. What shall I do? Make a soufflé? Take this fruit gift as a cosmic message to get busy with a piecrust and make a nice tart? Add it to some mashed turban squash for a more savory dish?

Stay tuned. I think I'm leaning toward a tart.

Next day update: Made a tart. It's wonderful. The filling is simply our eggs, some melted butter the quince purée and I added about a half cup of brown sugar to further sweeten and also round out the flavor. The taste of this is amazing: there are hints of vanilla, a floral leaning and the citrussy snap of the quince. I will be continue my experiments with this interesting fruit.


Deb Duchon said...

Hi Ellen - Thanks for the kind words about The Culinary Historian. As for quinces, we discussed them at a meeting of Culinary Historians of Atlanta when we had a program on The Herbs of Shakespeare. We found out that quinces were wildly popular in Elizabethan times, and they were often used interchangeably with "wardens", a type of pear.

Here is a recipe from 1604 (followed by a translation into modern English)

To preserve quinces red, or wardens
Take to every pound of quinces, a pound & somewhat better of sugar, beat it and put it into a deep silver basin or pewter, to every pound of sugar & quinces take half a pinte of faire water, so boyle your syrup first, then pare & core your quinces as fast as you can, so put them in rawe into your syrope & two or three of the cores loose, then lay a preplate in upon the, so let them boyle verie softlie, & never take out your quinces, but let them boyle as long as the syrup, when the syrup comes to be jellie, then they are done. From The Complete Receipt Book of Ladie Elynor Fetiplace, 1604+

1 lb pears, peeled, cored, and sliced thin (cover with acidulated water to prevent oxidation)
Reserve pear cores, seeded (ditto)
1 lb + sugar
1 cup water
(Multiply above proportions as needed)

Heat water and add sugar to dissolve. Drain pear slices and cores, add to syrup (preferably with cores in a spice bag), cover and reduce to a slow simmer. Simmer for several hours, as mixture thickens stir as needed to prevent burning. Eventually the slices will cook down to a paste, stirring helps the process and a stick/wand beater helps even more (remember to remove the cores first).

Sterilize mason jar(s) and lids and transfer pear preserves. Cool and keep a few weeks in the fridge, if you want to keep them longer at room temp, process with modern canning techniques.

dkm said...

Thank you for this post! I too have a quince bush that is loaded with fruit. Hardly any leaves, but tons of quinces. I've wondered every fall if there was something I could do with them besides leave them to the squirrels. I bit into one once to see if it was palatable. You're absolutely right. Hard as a rock and very sour. Whatever you decide, I'm waiting on the edge of my seat---secretly hoping for pie. But DD's preserves sound good too.

Ellen said...

thanks Deb! And we must not forget the owl and pussycat who" dined on mince and slices of quince."

They must have been eating preserved quince., as Deb M noted, raw is not at all palatable.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ellen - Deb introduced me to your blog and asked for ideas. Quince are wonderful, and if you want to get rid of some let me know. :)

They can be preserved in simple syrup, and turn red if simmered a long time in a sealed pot. Add sugar or honey and apple-pie spices (cinnamon, ginger, cloves, etc.) and they make great marmalade. They are also a perfect match for lamb. Historic recipe below.


Safarjaliyya, a Dish Made With Quinces
This is a good food for the feverish, it excites the appetite, strengthens the stomach and prevents stomach vapors from rising to the head. Take the flesh of a young fat lamb or calf; cut in small pieces and put in the pot with salt, pepper, coriander seed, saffron, oil and a little water; put on a low fire until the meat is done; then take as much as you need of cleaned peeled quince, cut in fourths, and sharp vinegar, juice of unripe grapes (verjuice) or of pressed quince, cook for a while and use. If you wish, cover with eggs and it comes out like muthallath. - the Cook Book of Ibrahim b. al-Mahdi as given in An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook of the 13th Century

1 lb. Lamb
1/4 t pepper
1 T wine vinegar
1 quince
1/2 t salt
1 T verjuice
1 T olive oil
1 t coriander
5-6 threads saffron
(omitted eggs)

Cut lamb into small pieces, brown 10 minutes in oil, add spices and a little water, cover and cook. Peel and core quince, cut into fourths. Add quince, vinegar and verjuice, cover and simmer 30-40 minutes stirring occasionally until quince is tender.

Deb Duchon said...

I love the title - "Quincidentally" is adorably clever.
Here are some more quince recipes. The Cotignac candy is a real crowd pleaser, it disappears fast! Oh, by the way, the "verjus" mentioned in the recipe that Terri sent earlier is an old version of vinegar, made with green grapes. Luckily for all of us, it is making a comeback - you can buy it on-line.

LAIMŪN SAFARJALΖQuince Lemon syrup
One part quince juice and three parts filtered syrup, in both of which you have boiled pieces of quince until nearly done. They are taken up, and the syrup takes it consistency. To every pound of the whole you add two ounces of lemon juice. Then return the pieces of quince; they improve the consistency. It is scented with musk, saffron and rosewater and taken up and used…KITĀB WASF AL-AT’IMA AL-MU’TĀDA, The Description of Familiar Foods 1373, of Persian origin, Translated by Charles Perry, Medieval Arab Cookery, p. 442-443

9 quince
2-3 pounds sugar
juice of 4-5 lemons
2 tsp rosewater
2 pinches saffron
2 musk lifesavers
At least 6 hours to cook.

Core and trim quince, cut into chunks. Put in deep pot, cover with water and heat on high. Add sugar, stir well until boiling, then reduce to med-low to simmer, stirring frequently, checking often as bottom will burn easily as it thickens.

Over the hours, color will change to rose red. When red and thick enough, remove from heat and cool. Strain without mashing or pressing, reserving quince. Taste syrup. It should be syrupy with a sweet-tart flavor. If adjustment is needed, reheat with more sugar. Mash quince and add if desired. Crush lifesaver in hot water. Crush saffron in warm water. Juice lemons. When cool, add musk-water, saffron-water, lemon juice, rosewater to taste. Mix thoroughly. To serve, dilute to taste with cold water.

Cotignac - Quince Candy
Pour Faire condoignac. Prenez les coings et les pelez. Puis fendez par quartiers et ostez l'ueil et les pepins. Puis cuisier en bon vin rouge et puis soient coulez parmi une estamine. Puis prenez du miel et le faictes longuement boulir et escumer, et apres mectez vos coings dedens et remuez tresbien, et le faictes tant boulir que le miel se reviengne a moins la moictie. Puis gectez dedens pouldre d'ypocras et remuez tant qu'il soit tout froit. Puis tailliez par morceaulx et les gardez - Menagier de Paris, 1393

2 quince
Good red wine to cover
1/2 cup honey (if not prefiltered, boil and skim to clean)
3 t cinnamon
2 t ginger
1 t grains of paradise
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 t galingale

Grind spices to powder.
Peel, core and quarter quince. Place in pot and cover with wine. Bring to a boil then simmer 45-60 minutes or until quince is tender and thickens the wine. Watch and stir often to avoid burning. Puree quince by running through strainer, food processor or wand mixer. Boil and skim honey, add quince and simmer until reduced by half, careful not to burn. Remove from heat, stir in ground spices and cool. Smooth out on marble or cookie sheet lines with wax paper to set. Cut into desired shapes.

Dust with ground or caster sugar and store with parchment or wax paper between to help prevent sticking.

Ellen said...

Welcome Taracook! Thanks for the Safarjaliyya, it appears amazing. And Deb, again thanks for yet more ideas.

I am delighted to have you both as followers of my haphazard blog and welcome your comments!

Alisa said...

This is wonderful.I love this exchange of recipes for quince.I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this quince widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about quince, Thanks!

LBTurner*1959 said...

Cute post title. I'm not big on quince but I like the idea of roasting them in the oven. Hope you enjoyed your tart and welcome to the Foodie Blogroll!

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