Monday, December 15, 2008

Poached Quince

For anyone who was ever called "fruity" in middle school, if quince was there, it would have beaten that bully up. Quince is fruit, but it's tough.

But while a fresh quince is as tough as wooden apple, with a little heat and sugar, quince can turn into a real peach. Well, not a real peach.

The fact that quince is a fruit that can't be eaten raw has always intrigued me, and some gorgeous specimens at the Union Square green market in NYC convinced me to finally give it a go. The smell alone was worth it: just from sitting out on the kitchen table, they made the whole apartment smell like perfume.

It would be wise to familiarize yourself with quince, as I'm sure we're going to see more of them as heirloom fruits and vegetables continue to reemerge from the shadows of our past. And what sounds like a better winter fruit fix: fossil fuel guzzling imported oranges or succulent, locally grown, poached quince? Unless you're a member of OPEC, I think I know which you'd prefer.

Always eager to find ways of preserving without using sugar, I poached a few in just water. These sucked. When I used sugar, the syrup turned a gorgeous, rosy color, and the fruit was fantastic.


Recipe: Poached Quince


Peel, seed and quarter as many quince as desired. Be prepared for them to be much tougher than you think fruit can be.

Dissolve a little less than 1/4 cup sugar per each fruit in as much water as needed to cover the quince.

Simmer until the quince becomes tender, reaching the consistency of a poached pear. Enjoy warm with toasted walnuts and a splash of the cooking liquid.

You might be able to can them at this point, but mine didn't stick around that long, so I can't say for sure.

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Maggie said...

I really love that quince are showing up in more markets. I'm lucky to have a generous father in law with a quince tree. I make a ton of jelly and jam every year with them. Quince jelly is one of the finest foods on earth. You should try baking them, which is what my Greek father in law does. Just core out the center (or halve and core), fill the cavity with a little sugar and a bit of butter. They're great that way and I like the texture better than poached.

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