Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Robin's Bounty


Robin sent me these knobbly chaps recently

The true quince, Cydonia oblonga, (as opposed to Chaenomeles japonica the ornamental or japanese quince) is something of a rarity in English gardens, so can usually only be obtained if you have, or know someone who has, a quince tree. Ornamental quinces are often seen in gardens and indeed do produce a quince like fruit in the autumn, but in my experience this is nothing like the fruit of the proper quince. They look a bit similar, in that they are both hard and completely inedible raw, but the true quince, when cooked has the ability to be transformed  into a fragrant amber puree, quite unlike anything else. Incidentally it's said that the "apple" of the Garden of Eden was in fact a quince, though it speaks volumes for Eve's powers of temptation that she could lure anyone with such a sour knobbly thing as a raw quince! Maybe it wasn't really the fruit he was after....

Anyway, Robin was kind enough to send me quite a lot of quinces, so I've been playing about with various recipes and ideas for using them. They are famously partnered with apples, and bring a special fragrance to a traditional apple pie which lifts it quite out of the ordinary. But it has to be said that the flavour is fairly intense, and even if you like it, as I do, it can get a bit overpowering after several days of experimental simmering and stirring. So I intend to set aside my creations for a day or two and then come back and see what works best. So far I've made Quince and Apple Jelly, Quince and Cranberry Preserve, Quince Cheese, or Membrillo, and Quince Mincemeat.

Quinces are hard and curiously downy, so first of all you need to wash off the downy covering, then chop them roughly and either boil them until soft and strain through a jelly bag, or steam them in your Mehu Maija hot juice extractor machine if you have one. 
 You will end up with a quantity of clear juice for making jelly, which should be sparkling clear

and quite a lot of pulp that can be seived and boiled with sugar to make quince cheese, which the Spanish dry and eat with cheese, apparently. I've never tried it so I will see how it turns out.

I found I had rather a lot of quince cheese, so I tried mixing it with some of my home made mincemeat, and it's quite delicious. It adds a rich flavour and moistness to the mincemeat which I really like. And finally from an idea I saw on Marisa's blog I cooked up some of it with cranberries to make a Cranberry and Quince preserve. I quite enjoy a dollop of Cranberry sauce with a cold turkey sandwich, but the addition of the quince lifts it out of the everyday and into the seasonal luxury, and even though it's a lot of trouble to go to, as they say on the adverts,
You're Worth It



11 comments:

  1. I must say, I have never seen (or noticed, anyway) a quince in the store. You make it sound quite exotic! If I was a cooking person, I would ask around, not even sure if they grow in this area.

    Interesting post!

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  2. I have never had a quince, but you sure make them sound delicious. We just finished canning up a bunch of mincemeat the other day, too bad we had no quince to add to the mix...sounds really good.

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  3. My quince tree was low on fruit this year due to the strange weather. Normally it is laden and I have such fun with all the fruit making various things. I love quince. Diane

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  4. Dear Kathy, Of course, with my lack of culinary skill and equipment, I know that I shall never [even given the Quinces] produce anything remotely edible from them. However, you have certainly tempted me to go and seek out a tasty Quince offering at my local delicatessen.

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  5. Hi Sharon, yes I think they grow best in warmer areas we don't have too many of them here

    Hi Mr H, shame you don't have any quinces, they really do seem to lift the flavour of the mincemeat, but I'm sure yours will be lovely as home made is always much better than manufactured.

    Hi Diane, fellow quince eater, hope you enjoyed your harvest

    Hi Edith, I/m sure you have an excellent local deli, but you could always have a look at my online MISI shop -I will be adding some of my quince produce soon.

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  6. there's nothing quite like a knobbly chap!

    lol
    good post

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  7. What an amazing contraption that juice extractor thingie is. Your quince jelly making must have been on a whole different level to mine - think I ended up with three small jars. But I so love the flavour and the colour and the aroma. Not always easy to get hold of, but I grab them if I can.

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  8. Yum...roll on Christmas! (I sold a jar of your Honey in the week by the way and have an order for another jar from someone else aswell)x

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  9. That's what I always think John

    Hi Chocletter, yes it is a bit wierd looking, but it works really well, and saves all the straining jelly bag thing so I do like it.

    Hi James you are appointed official sales manager!!

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  10. Quince cheese is looking very delicious. I'll make it myself for my kids. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. My mom made some quince jelly with her homegrown quince (first ever) this year and has promised to bring some for Christmas morning. I'll have to tell her about your quince "cheese". Love the colour of the jelly.

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