Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Monday, 18 November 2013

Seasonal Recipe: For the Love of Quinces

Last week I received just the kind of email I like from my friend M:

Are you going to choir tonight? it read, because I have a bag of quince for you.

And so it came to pass, a large bag of golden treasure was handed to me later that evening :)

For me, quince summons up happy memories of long leisurely lunches taken outdoors on my project in Mallorca. Manchego cheese topped with membrillo was an extra special treat for us to have before we cleared the table to examine the invertebrate samples we'd caught in the morning.

There were no freshly caught invertebrates yesterday, but freshly made membrillo - aka quince cheese or quince paste - is definitely on the menu along with the poached quince and cake I mentioned yesterday.

I still had fruit to spare, so I decided to roast a couple. We had roast chicken for dinner and there was just enough room in the oven to slide in a dish of quince for NAH and me to have for dessert.


2 small quinces, washed well so all the fuzzy stuff on the outside is removed
250 ml water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime (or you could use half a lemon)
2 star anise


  1. Pour the water into a large (ish) pan, add the sugar, lime juice and star anise and bring slowly to the boil
  2. Just before the water comes to the boil, quickly slice the quince in half and add to the syrupy liquid - the cut half of the quince should placed face down in the pan so they don't go brown
  3. Turn the heat down to a simmer and poach the quince until soft (approx 20 minutes)
  4. Place the quince cut side up in a small ovenproof dish and pour over the syrup
  5. Roast in a moderately hot oven for about 25 minutes (gas mark 5, 190oC electric or 170oC for a fan assisted oven) until the quince are pinky brown in colour
  6. Serve warm with a large dollop of natural yoghurt or half fat creme fraiche
Note that I haven't removed the skin - it can be removed whilst transferring to the dish (if lucky), or just eat them, or simply scoop the roasted quince out of their skins when eating. You'll also need to remove the core. I didn't remove the skin or core the quince as they are so hard to cut - it's a much easier task to do later.

Oh and make sure you also serve the poaching juices - they should be jelly-like and utterly delicious.

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  1. Clearly the best fruit in the world.
    Did you have a jar of jelly this year? If not, you know where to ask.

  2. No I didn't - 'cos you hadn't made it when I visited...

  3. Sounds wonderful, I love the flavour of quince, but I haven't had one in years. Lucky you having a friend with a tree.

    1. It's a new flavour for me CJ, started off by my esteemed commenter The Bike Shed above :) I have a quince tree, but I only bought it last year. I had a few flowers this year, but none of them pollinated. I'm hoping that in time I'll be the one taking bags of quinces to choir...

  4. Although this time year comes round - er - every year . . . this time, everyone seems to be going quince mad - and I've not noticed that in other Novembers.

    1. I think that like apples, the harvest is later this year and there's also been a heavy crop. One of my cookbooks says September/October is the usual season.

  5. We had our first proper quince harvest this year. Absolutely agree - why haven't they been around more? Love them - cook with sultanas and apples and put in puff pastry. You really don't need to add spices.

    1. That sounds delicious and yes, I could have got away without using the star anise. Eating quince is like eating perfume. And I'm amazed how easily they go from being like wood when you try and cut them to all soft and fluffy when cooked.

  6. Ah, we've both been in the kitchen doing the same thing VP!! Nothing quite like this fruit is there? Thank heavens for friends as I too wouldn't have any. Must get that jelly made; the syrup awaits in the fridge.

  7. We grow quinces but this year lots had bitter pit so we didn't have many to use. The our greengrocer gave us half a bag full that someone had brought into the shop so that was welcome. We stew the fruit for use in tarts and crumbles.

  8. Bren - it's my first time with full-blown quince. I've only used Japanese previously, thanks to Mark.

    Sue - that's a shame, but what a fab greengrocer you have!

    1. We took him an apple and quince tart today as a thank you.


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