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How to Cook a Quince

Updated on December 21, 2014
Rich ruby quince
Rich ruby quince | Source

Quince, the Queen of Fruits

The quince has fallen out of favour these days and there are plenty of people who wouldn't recognise a quince if it were served up on a plate in front of them. What a tragedy!

So let's have a look at some luscious recipes for quinces, the beautiful fruit once sacred to Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love.

A Fragrant, Feminine Fruit

The quince is intensely fragrant, with a perfume like a mingling of pear blossom, rose petal and narcissus, with a sort of old-world, grandmothers-kitchen, baked-apple smell. Exquisite!

A single ripe quince placed on a table will do wonders for a room.

Quinces are remarkable to look at and it's difficult to ignore the very feminine, very voluptuous shape of their dimples, bumps and curves and their beautiful perfume. These "golden apples" were given as gifts to gods, kings and queens and you will often see images of Venus with one in her hand.

The Golden Apples of the Goddess

The quince of Aphrodite was the Fruit of Paradise in the Garden of the Hesperides, the mythical Eden sought by Hercules somewhere past Egypt.

I bet it was! A quince is a perfect fruit to grow in the garden of a goddess. There's something essentially paradisial about a bowl of quince with vanilla ice cream. Just heavenly!

There are a number of exciting and exotic ways to cook a quince.

How to cook a quince

Cooking a quince means work and possibly explains its loss of popularity in modern times.

Quinces involve heaps of preparation.

Their irregularity makes peeling difficult and they brown quickly unless put straight into water. You need patience. It takes even more patience to finally transform them into a deeply hued ruby red, with a soft yet firm texture that's lightly granular and richly flavoured.

Most commercial quinces are picked too green so they never develop the rich colour and delightful perfume. I wouldn't recommend buying quinces from a supermarket chain. A farmers' market is a safer bet.

Keep an eye out, you may spot a quince tree in a neighbour's yard, the fruit stays on for quite a while in autumn long after the leaves have dropped.

Remember - you cannot eat a raw quince!

When cooked, the versatile quince is delicious. Because it's full of pectin, it lends itself very well to the making of preserves, but can also be cooked with meat and fish and, of course, a quince dessert is a downright delight.

It's wonderful poached in a syrup spiced with cinnamon and clove and reveals another quality of wonder - it turns a luscious shade, anywhere from deep pink to rich red. From rosy to ruby.

If fresh quinces are handled carefully and not bruised, they should last for months. Poached in a heavy syrup, they will keep very well for a month to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.

How to Poach a Quince

The classic poaching method, tried and true and and an easy way to peel the quinces.

Ingredients

  • 4 -6 quinces
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water or more as needed
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole cloves

Instructions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the quinces with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, uncovered, until barely tender, about 10 minutes.
  2. Drain the quinces and, when cool enough to handle, peel, halve, core, and cut into slices.
  3. To make the syrup -
  4. In a saucepan large enough to accommodate the sliced quinces, combine the sugar, 1 cup water, cloves, and cinnamon sticks.
  5. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the quinces and additional water if needed to cover. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Now simmer for about 3 -4 hours. Watch for the colour change.
  7. Transfer to a serving dish and refrigerate. Serve chilled.
3 stars from 1 rating of Quince in Syrup

Quince Colour Changes

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Recipe - Quince Chutney

At first glance this may seem a long list of ingredients but these tiny amounts of spices produce a wonderful taste. Chutney is basically jam with vinegar and spices and the quince makes a chutney to die for.

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large, heavy-based pot.
  2. Stir so that the sugar is dissolved, then bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour until mixture is thick enough to mound on a spoon.
  4. Mash quince to desired consistency.
  5. Let it cool slightly then ladle the chutney into jars, make sure to leave 1/2 inch of headspace.
  6. Put the jars in a cool, dark place for 1 to 2 months so that the flavours develop.

Ingredients

  • 2 kilos quince, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/2 chunks
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Recipe - Quince Curd

All you need are quinces, water, sugar, an orange and a lemon, eggs and butter, plus some sterilised jars for the curd.

Ingredients

  • 500 g diced quince flesh - about 1lb
  • 400 g sugar - just under 1lb
  • a small piece of orange zest
  • a small piece of lemon zest
  • water

Instructions

  1. Place the sugar, quince dice and zest in a pot and barely cover with water
  2. Bring to the boil, stirring, then simmer till the mixture takes on the characteristic quince pink hue. (By this time the pieces of fruit should be soft)
  3. Remove from heat, then immediately whisk in 4 eggs and 150g butter (cut into small pieces)
  4. Combine well.
  5. Pour into sterilised jars and seal the jars when cold
  6. Store in the fridge.

Recipe - Quince Compote with Cointreau

If you don't have cointreau (a vital addition to your pantry in my opinion) you can use any other orange liqueur

Ingredients

  • 2 kilos quince, peeled and cored, cut into small chunks
  • 6 cardamom pods, finely ground
  • 2 teaspoons dried orange peel
  • 1/3 cup sugar (if you prefer sweeter, use 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau

Instructions

  1. Put the quinces in a heavy-based pot with the cardamom and add about 1/2 inch of water to prevent burning.
  2. Cook, covered, for about 1 hour, keep checking that the water hasn't disappeared.
  3. When the quinces are soft but not falling apart. add the sugar and stir until dissolved
  4. Let the mixture cool, then stir in the cointreau
  5. Refirgerate

Recipe - Spiced Pickled Quinces

What you need

4-5 quinces

850ml white wine vinegar

250ml water

700g sugar

12 cloves

peel of 1 orange

2 tsp peppercorns

3 tsp coriander seed

1 cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves (fresh if possible)

What you do

*Peel and quarter the quinces, remove the cores

*Put everything in a pot

*Simmer about 2 hours until soft and red

*Cool and refrigerate.

Quinces in Classical texts

Many references in ancient texts were mis-translated to "apple", such as the fruit in Song of Solomon.

Among the ancient Greeks, the quince was a ritual offering at weddings, for it had come from the Levant with Aphrodite and remained sacred to her. Plutarch reports that a Greek bride would nibble a quince to perfume her kiss before entering the bridal chamber, "in order that the first greeting may not be disagreeable nor unpleasant".

It was a quince that Paris awarded Aphrodite (and resulted in the Trojan War) and it was for a golden quince that Atalanta paused in her race.

Sir Hugh Platt's Quidini of Quinces

from Sir Hugh Platt Delights for Ladies (London: 1600)

Take the kernells out of eight great Quinces, and boile them in a quart of spring water, till it come to a pinte, then put into it a quarter of a pinte of Rosewater, and one pound of fine Sugar, and so let it boile till you see it come to bee of a deepe colour: then take a drop, and drop it on the bottome of a sawcer,

Then let it run through a gelly bagge into a bason, then set it in your bason upon a chafing dish of coles to keep it warm, then take a spoone, and fill your boxes as full as you please, and when they be colde cover them: and if you please to printe it in moldes, you must have moldes made to the bigness of your boxe, and wet your moldes with Rosewater, and so let it run into your mold, and when it is colde turne it off into your boxes.

If you wette your moldes with water, your gelly will fall out of them.

I love a quince!

I can't sing the praises of the Queen of Fruit highly enough. If you've never had a quince, then believe me, you're missing a taste that has delighted us for at least 4000 years.

Even the long process of cooking a quince brings pleasure. The slow simmer, the watching of the pot, the changing of the colour, and the outcome - finally the outcome! It's Art! Then you realise how virtuous and talented you are.....

If there is a heaven, it's full of quince trees.

How about you?

What do you think of quinces?

See results

What do you think about the glorious quince? ? All comments are appreciated.

© 2008 Susanna Duffy

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    • profile image

      Christy Scott 2 years ago

      Today, I discovered a flowering quince on the land we purchased a few months ago. I remember eating quince preserves from my grandmother's cellar, about 40 years ago. I loved it! Now I'll be watching that flowering quince over the summer, and if I find fruit, I will try to guard it from the deer. If there is no fruit, I think I will need to plant one!

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 2 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I don't think I have ever eaten quince. This was very interesting and informative.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 2 years ago from Central Florida

      I wonder if these grow in Florida. I'll have to look that up.

    • profile image

      candy47 4 years ago

      This afternoon a local farmer gave me a big bag of quince. He has lots of quince trees and the fruits were falling off. I had never seen a quince until today. Thanks to this lens, now I know what to do with them.

    • mariacarbonara profile image

      mariacarbonara 4 years ago

      Never seen one either so wil look out for them

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 5 years ago from Liverpool, England

      I've had quince jelly but never seen the fruit in all its naked glory.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      love them poached with a tiny hint of rosewater. Difficult to cut and peel though, can they be roasted without peeling,peel after?

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 5 years ago from New York

      My late mother-in-law had a Quince tree and reading your lens brought back many fond memories. Thank you.

    • naturegirl7s profile image

      Yvonne L. B. 5 years ago from Covington, LA

      Wonderful recipes with your entertaining wit thrown in for good measure. I've wanted a Quince tree for a long time. Now I'm going to find one. Blessed.

    • profile image

      SandyPaw 5 years ago

      I LOVE quince jam!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Actually, you CAN eat raw quince!!! And it is quite delicious when fully ripe... Furthermore, it is very beneficial for the digestive system... and of medicinal value in case of stomach and gallbladder problems.

    • profile image

      Helene-Malmsio 5 years ago

      I've never been properly introduced to the acquired taste of quince, so I can't say I'm a fan. I have seen them in the supermarket, but it just seemed a lot of work to prepare it!

      Great lens, now I know where to find real help if I do decide to try some!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Looking and looking and looking but can NOT find a quince fruit anywhere! I an't find them anywhere local and can't even find them anywhere in Ohio. Can someone give advice on where I can obtain this elusive friut? I will even have a few shipped to me if the price is right. Please let me know!! Thanks!

    • profile image

      ErHawkns7100 6 years ago

      I always walk by them not knowing what to do with them.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 6 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      My parents had a flowering quince in their yard when I was growing up. We liked it because the bright flowers attracted hummingbirds but we never tried to eat the fruit. Will have to find some and give them a try.

    • yayas profile image

      yayas 6 years ago

      Oh, my mouth is watering, though I never even heard of Quince before. You description is so delectable as to make me wanna' run right out an' plant a Quince Tree an' wait by its side until it should grow. Where, oh where DOES a person buy a Quince Tree?

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I love quince jelly,it's so good. Nice lens on a fruit you don't hear about very often.

    • imolaK profile image

      imolaK 6 years ago

      I must admit I've never seen a quince until that moment. When I'll go to the market I hope I'll find one.

    • EmmaCooper LM profile image

      EmmaCooper LM 7 years ago

      Lovely lens :)

    • Louis Wery profile image

      Louis Wery 7 years ago from Sarasota, Florida USA

      Very interesting to read about quinces and the photographs show a lovely fruit. I enjoyed reading the recipe from the 1600s. Now to see a quince in the flesh.

    • KiwiGayle profile image

      KiwiGayle 7 years ago

      Microwaving quinces just like apples is easy - except for coring them - drill a hole and plug it with raisins and maple syrup and brown sugar and butter and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Marvellous. Great lens. I used to eat them all the time in NZ, including the little Japenese quincies a bit like japonica apples.

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Very interesting. I knew nothing of quinces before this, other than they are a "q" fruit when playing word games. It seems that those cups of added sugar in some of your recipes might reduce a bit of that good healthy effect. Maybe one day I will give quince a try.

    • squid-janices7 profile image

      squid-janices7 8 years ago

      Never had a quince before, but it sounds interesting. I'll have to look for them in at Bob's Produce Market...all they sell is produce so maybe they'll have them. Great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      [in reply to JLCollins]

      Thanks for this Squidoo lens as I have a local historic building near me in the UK where I discovered quinces and have been interested in them ever since so it was fascinating to read your lens and learn some more. I do some part-time writing in the UK and am interested to pitch an article to a women's weekly mag. with interesting facts etc. about quinces so if JL Collins would be happy to share some of her 'interesting stories' about quince especially for boiling the quince seeds to make hair gel that would be great. My email address is: abby (dot) williams (at) tesco (dot) net.

      http://www.squidoo.com/Curing-Rosacea

    • profile image

      JLCollins 8 years ago

      Four years ago I had never heard of quince. Now, because of the beautiful man I married, I have jars of quince jelly and stories about quince to make me love it. When my husband was a boy, they boiled the seeds to make hair gel!

    • GoutWife profile image

      GoutWife 8 years ago

      I'm ashamed to say that I've never done anything more with quince than stew them to have with morning cereal. The membrillo recipe sounds wonderful and I will definitely try it next quince season.

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      RuthCoffee 8 years ago

      I've heard of Quince before, but I've never had any. It does sound like a bit of work, but I think I'm up to the task! Thanks for the recipes.

    • Ramkitten2000 profile image

      Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I'd never heard of quince until my husband and I met an elderly woman in Connecticut while taking a walk one day. She called us over to her yard and said she had far too many quince and asked if we'd take a bag of them home. I was hooked! We'd place baskets of quince in every room, which made the place smell SO good. I wish I'd known of all these wonderful recipes back then, but we did come up with "quince leather" on our own, using our food dehydrator. Yum!

    • religions7 profile image

      religions7 8 years ago

      Congrats on making it as a giant squid top 100 member :)

    • Sara Valor profile image

      Sara Valor 8 years ago from Breezy Hills

      Hi, living way down south, we have quince trees in various places.

      My grandfather loved them and would make quince jelly, preserves and pickle them.

      He would also simply peel them slice them and salt them and eat them raw. Eating them raw will not hurt you any more than eating a raw apple, its just when a quince is raw with no other flavor it is tart and grainy. But you can eat them raw if you like.

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 9 years ago

      I actually had decent fruit on my quince bush this year but didn't know how to handle it. I'd only read about quince jelly in books. Wish I'd found this lens sooner! It's wonderful. 5*

    • Angelina Howard profile image

      Angelina Howard 9 years ago

      Sounds tasty. Can't wait to try one.

    • MarcoG profile image

      Marc 9 years ago from Edinburgh

      I don't know why, but I always thought that a quince was part of the orange family, I stand corrected...would love to try some of your recipes. 5* from me :) x

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 9 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      I haven't tried this fruit yet. Sounds yummy.

    • MatCauthon profile image

      MatCauthon 9 years ago

      Never tasted it... first tiem to here this. Doeas it have any other name? 5*

    • James20 profile image

      James20 9 years ago

      I never knew of that fruit before. I am going to look for it and try it if I find it.

    • dreamsgate lm profile image

      dreamsgate lm 9 years ago

      What an interesting looking fruit. I have heard of them before, but have never had the opportunity to actually try one.

      Sigh, now I need to go on a quince hunt!

    • ArtByLinda profile image

      Linda Hoxie 9 years ago from Idaho

      Amazing, I have never heard of a quince before! Thanks for the education, they really look good! Linda

    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 9 years ago

      Marvelous lens which I am lensrolling to my Red Rocks one. Why? Because there are wild quince bushes which grow in the park and when I was little we used to stop by and pick them there. My mother made the BEST quince jams. Oh, I NEED to go up there SOON and see if any are left, I'd love to make some jam now.

    • The Homeopath profile image

      The Homeopath 9 years ago

      Marvelous lens which I am lensrolling to my Red Rocks one. Why? Because there are wild quince bushes which grow in the park and when I was little we used to stop by and pick them there. My mother made the BEST quince jams. Oh, I NEED to go up there SOON and see if any are left, I'd love to make some jam now.

    • BFunivcom profile image

      Allan R. Wallace 9 years ago from Wherever Human Rights Reign

      I enjoyed Sir Hugh Platt's recipe in particular. I've had Quince Jelly and enjoyed it - but so many other forms yet to try.

    • profile image

      dandepp 9 years ago

      Like many others here - I haven't heard or tried a Quince - I get the impression it would taste somehwere between an apple and a pear! Nice lens! 5 stars!

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 9 years ago from Croatia

      Not my favorite fruit but I could try some of your recipes! Maybe I'll fall in love with it! :)

    • WhitU4ever profile image

      WhitU4ever 9 years ago

      What a unique lens! I've never heard of a quince before. It looks like a pear.

    • dahlia369 profile image

      dahlia369 9 years ago

      Quince is (in my opinion) the most aromatic fruit out there, great to spice up apple sauce, other fruits in syrup and even to add secret enchanting aroma to sauerkraut. Great lens about great fruit! :)

    • AslanBooks profile image

      AslanBooks 9 years ago

      I have never heard of a Quince before. Very nice...I wish we had them around Arizona.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 9 years ago

      I have never tried a quince. I've never noticed them in the stores. Now I will have to look for them next time I go grocery shopping. Beautiful lens. 5*

    • piedromolinero profile image

      piedromolinero 9 years ago

      I saw the quince quite often in shops around but I never tried it before. Now as I doscovered this nice lens and found some recipes I will give it a try!

      Thanks for this and 5*!

    • profile image

      Jesi 9 years ago

      I like your lense, I wish to pass it on to my friends too

    • ZenandChic profile image

      Patricia 9 years ago

      I love this lens. Would you believe I have never tried a quince. Thank you for introducing me to them.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 9 years ago

      Lovely lens! Welcome to Culinary Favorites From A to Z.