Monday, March 23


They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand on the edge of the sand
They danced by the light of the moon.

- From The Owl and the Pussycat.

quince and figs

my favourite season for fruit is right about now. i love the evocativeness of both these fruits and their contrasting personalities. Figs when ripe are soft, jammy and drip their sappy sweetness. The quince is firm, furry and floral. For me, their histories, their cultural associations, their scent, their texture, their ultimate uniqueness really draws me in. They're both romantic. My heart skips when i think of them, plotting how to eat them, sniffing in that incredible high note apple and that musty smug. Using them in the kitchen somehow connects me to the past; i feel part of a continuum of tradtion and brimming with life and its possibilities. Im humbled and grateful. Figs i love straight from the tree, a mouthful, stuffed and greedy. Quinces i love to hold and shift their weight from hand to hand and rub through velvet with my thumb. To eat, i love them baked and served with meats.

Sadly we have no fig tree; im going to have to change that soon, so for now i make the most of a few local roadside stalls and the farmers markets. The quince in the garden is fruiting. it looks beautiful, like an overhung christmas tree. It loves neglect. Its rarely watered, never pruned or fed, just surviving on its leaf litter foot warmers. Mediterranean trees love this climate and i love them too! I think this weekend i may cook duck with quince,bottle the current batch and perform the almost obligatory transformation of quince into paste (and eat with a runcible spoon!)

This was a very long and round about way to call out for your favourite quince recipe/ preserving method please...


Rest is not idleness said...

Surprisingly enough, the article I have got some recipes from starts with "Eat with a runcible spoon"
Quince jelly is easiest, wash qunices, scrub away fluff, cut and chop into small pieces, skins, pips and all. Put in a heavy pot and barely cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for about an hour till very tender. Cool, then strain through a jelly bag overnight (don't squeeze). Measure liquid - for each litre use a kilo of sugar, don't add the sugar yet, bring liquid to the boil, then add the sugar, over moderate heat, bring back to boil, stirring, then raise the heat and boil steadily, skimming scum, it may be ready after 5 minutes, so give it your full attention (a thermometer is useful, jelly 104-105C). Test for set in the usual way. Pour into jars and seal.
Sorry the recipe is a bit vague.
You could also make quince paste, oven poached quinces, quinces baked in honey, pickled quinces, pot-roasted quinces, Maggie Beer has a nice section on quinces in her book Maggie's Harvest. If you like the sound of some of those, email me and I'll scan or type out for you.

Annuska said...

I absolutely love quince gelee- like a jam but sort of jelly like. My favourite jam of all times. My mother in law makes it in Germany but beerenberg do one that is not bad either...have never attempted it myself though! We have a bit of council land in the back of the property and it holds a quince 'tree' and also prickly pears, so we harvest quince every you say, it kind of takes care of itself and all we do is to send the kids to check on ripeness from time to time! In Spain we eat the quince meat (cooked) with cheese as desert. As a child I especially liked it with cheese such as the laughing cow triangles- I know, kind of processed, but I loved that!

Kel said...

Pip- the jelly sounds like annuskas gelee. Might give that a shot. as the colour is stunning; transparent and pink. Beautiful. Thnaks for the offer i might check out the library first then let you know, a whole section on quince sounds divine!

Annuska - gelee it is! Serve with manchego cheese please! keep the kids busy, they should almost be ready!

Kerrie said...

Oh is my favourite, can I come to dinner this weekend..?? I adore quince with meats. I have a recipe for a leg of lamb roasted on a bed of quince, the fruit soaks up all of the juices from the meat and becomes a gorgeous accompaniment.

My Nana used to make Quince Jelly, I remember sitting as a young child looking through the jars at the light coming in from the window, such stunning colours from ruby red to pale pink.

We had a number of quince trees in a house I lived in in Victoria, like yours they thrived on neglect...I used to pile them up on a large aqua anodised aluminium platter/dish as a table centrepiece.

Oh yum...

Katrine said...

I made some very tasty slow cooked lamb shanks with quinces on sunday altered a little from a recipe for lamb neck with quinces in Maggie's Harvest.

It was something along the lines of 4 onions, a big knob of ginger and a bulb of garlic fried until golden in a casserole dish, then in with 4 halved lamb shanks to brown. Then 2 large quinces sliced, some white wine, chicken stock to half cover the shanks, a pinch of turmeric and a generous amount of ground coriander and cumin. That all goes in the oven covered at 120C for about four hours or until the meat is tender. By now your house should smell amazing! Once the meat it tender it needs to be removed from the bones while the sauce is thickening on the stove, then added back into the sauce to serve with lots of polenta and fresh coriander.

It wasn't the best quince and lamb dish i'd ever tasted when we first ate it on sunday night but left until monday night the flavours had intensified and it was absolutely delicious!

Maggie's recipe also calls for Pickled Quinces and their juice to be added at the end of the cooking which i didn't have but i'm sure would have been lovely. I think i'll pickle some after the farmers market on sunday so i can try the recipe again with the pickled quince before the season is over.

I'll let you know how Maggies pickling recipe goes for me. :) Although it will be several weeks until tasting time...

have fun with all those quinces!

Anonymous said...

Until today I'd never heard of quince!!

Karin said...

I do not have any quince recipe's to share but will take on board all that have here. Quince's have a very special, personal connection in my life, despite the lack of recipes!

How very cool that you have quince trees. Sigh......

Kel said...

oohhh dear, now i have choice. i may have to switch to lamb if theres no duck to be found im doing ok. kerrie , there is something so magical about the quine jelly colour its just so perfect. thanks katrine for the full blown recipe. im so excited jus reading about themit how food involved is that? Pickled quinces sounds great, im going to have to make that library trip sooner than saturday i think.

NFFT - im so glad to introduce you to the wonderful world of quince.

karin - they are just evocative things arent they? and yes, an abundant garden is one of lifes joys.

blue milk said...

Your blog is becoming seriously sumptuous.

Anonymous said...

I was searching for some inspiration for the plush of quinces I picked yesterday at my sister's house in Forest Range. I have discovered another fig and quince lover on this page. I love the picking from our own or a friend's tree - I bring lemons and take home quinces - and the childhood associations, love it.