It looks like a pear, but it is not. Not preferred by the many, as its flesh is astringent and sour when raw. However, when cooked, #quince can be a delicious and distinctive addition to many dishes, or eaten as a sweet (called spoon sweet in Greece).
Due to its high levels of pectin which makes foods stabilise, it is particularly popular in jams – not to mention that great quince paste bar that is warming and hearty during winter times.
A bit of history
It was initially discovered in the Caucasus area, and made its journey west across to the Mediterranean regions of Europe around 600BC. In Greece, the quince was cherished as a fruit of love, marriage and fertility and it was often given as a wedding gift to the bride to… sweeten her breath! (That is why currently it is not used in weddings, apparently)
Edward I of England in 1275 ordered that quince trees be planted at the Tower of London.From there on it found its way in the kitchens of Londoners as a common ingredient in jams, crumbles and pies.
Given its size, it grows on small bush trees and is usually ready for harvest in late October, when it is golden yellow in colour and beautifully fragrant.
Let’s buy some!
When buying quince, firstly look for firm fruit with a golden yellow skin. We have personally not able to find quinces in the supermarket, so it is unlike that you will too. Instead, seek them out at your local farmers market from around the end of October when the quince season begins.
How to store
You can preserve quinces for up to two months if you keep them in a cool and dry environment. Best if are kept refrigerated. Their aroma is strong, but pleasing to the senses and it is advised to store them away from other fruits.
How to prepare
Fresh off the tree, quinces tend to be covered in a light “fur” which you should rub it off under cold water before you start cutting the fruit. To have a better result in your cooking, better remove the tough skin with a vegetable peeler.
Be aware that the flesh of the fruit oxidises rapidly when exposed to the air, so our tip would be to squeeze half a lemon over its flesh to prevent it from going brown.
Raw quince is unpleasantly acidic – cooking softens and sweetens the flesh whilst turning it a rather fetching golden pink colour.