The first time I’d heard of quinces was in a cookbook. At the time, I had no idea what they were. They aren’t popular (or really present) on the east coast. They seemed suitably exotic until I looked at the front of the cookbook (what? you think I normally read all that useful information in the front first? why would I do a thing like that?) and realized there was a picture of them. And they looked like apples which are about as un-exotic as one can get.
A few weeks ago, while wandering through our local farmer’s market, I spied some quinces for sale. Given that they looked like apples, I figured they wouldn’t be that difficult to utilize (which is a word that you aren’t supposed to use as it’s considered jargon and can easily be replaced by the word “use”). And then they sat in the refrigerator for several weeks (I can’t be the only one out there to do that).
When we were in San Francisco, I actually had an apple and quince tart at the Chez Panisse Café so I had some idea of what they tasted like (sour). Unfortunately, the cookbook that the recipe is promised to be in hasn’t shown up at our local Costco yet (even though they claim it’s for sale). So making the apple and quince tart was out and it appears that the only thing anyone else makes with quinces is quince paste.
Calling it a paste is a misnomer. When I think of paste, I think of the stuff that kindergarteners like to eat. This is much closer to gummy bears. Or maybe crystallized ginger. But not paste.
To me, they taste like a sour apple gummy bear. Angela’s advice is to not drink Coke Zero immediately prior to eating a quince paste candy (apparently it then tastes like medicine). You could also make a good quince sauce by not cooking the puree completely.
Adapted from Room for Dessert
1 1/2 lbs. quinces (3 large quinces)
4 cups water
3 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
- Wash the quinces in running water. Cut the fruit, unpeeled, into 1-inch cubes. Combine the quinces, water, and lemon in a sauce pan. Cook, covered, over medium heat for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the quinces are soft.
- Drain the quinces and discard the lemon. Run the quince through a food mill fitted with a medium disk.
- Combine the quince puree and the sugar in a large skillet. Cook at a low simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. The paste should become thicker over time. It’s done when it has a consistency similar to honey.
- Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by placing a layer of parchment paper on it. Spread the quince paste across it, about 1/2 inch thick.
- Allow the quince paste to cool completely and harden slightly. Cut the quince piece into 1 inch squares. Roll the cut pieces in granulated sugar. Store in an unsealed container.