Autumn of course is a time of change. It takes me a while to get into the swing of Autumn but beautiful foods like pomegranates and quinces help. I get a few buckets of quinces from a friend’s farm each year. Not a great lover of quince tarts, pies, etc, I generally bake them all and use the beautiful results for jams, fresh chutneys, syrups, sauces and to feed my freezer (so that I can continue to have jams, chutneys, syrups, sauces throughout the year). This is how I bake them.
Funny fruits, quinces are hard, gritty, greeny-yellow and sour when they are uncooked. Cooked properly – a long and slow cooking – they turn bright crimson and into a melty goodness. In this way they reveal a hidden beauty, no longer an inhospitable inedible fruit.
When you find a good supply of quinces, stick with it. Different varieties will either retain a graininess when cooked or it will be eliminated by the cooking. Although the graininess is not unpleasant, I prefer the less grainy varieties. You may need to experiment with your suppliers.
This is a good recipe for a cool Saturday or Sunday afternoon. Or cook them overnight, and awaken to a freshly baked quinces for breakfast, sort of a day.
Prep time: 15 – 20 mins
Cooking time: 7 – 8 hours
Serves: depends how many you cook and how you intend to use them
This recipe can be made in a slow cooker. Adjust times accordingly.
6 or more quinces
1kg – 2 kg sugar (Note: I use less sugar because eventually the quinces will be used for other purposes. Use more if you want to keep the quinces in their spiced state for longer periods of time.)
3 l water
2 star anise
1 stick cinnamon
1 – 2 chillies (optional)
2 cardamom pods, crushed
1 – 2 bay leaves
1 lemon, thickly sliced
2 juniper berries (optional, if you have them)
Preheat your oven to 150C.
Bring all ingredients except the quinces to a boil in a wide, heavy based, oven proof pan, then reduce heat to a mere simmer.
Peel the quinces then cut them into halves lengthwise (halve again if large), but leave their cores and seeds in tact.
Put the quinces into the simmering liquid, then press a sheet of baking paper over the fruit and cover with a lid. Transfer to the oven and poach gently for 7 – 8 hours until the fruit is soft and red.
Now they are ready to be used in pies, tarts, and desserts of all sorts. For sheer simplicity, simply serve over icecream. You will of course need to cut away the core and seeds before serving. Enjoy!
Left over syrup can be made into jam.
If you want to bottle them
Carefully remove the fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon and transfer to hot sterilised jars. Strain syrup, then pour over fruit until covered. Seal the jars and refrigerate for 4 – 6 months. As you need to use the fruit, remove it from the syrup and cut away the core and seeds. Reduce the syrup over heat until thick and syrupy and serve it as a sauce.
If you want to freeze them
Cool the fruit and then carefully remove the fruit from the syrup with a slotted spoon and transfer to freezer-proof containers or bags. Strain syrup, then pour over fruit. Seal the containers and refrigerate. As you need to use the fruit, defrost, remove from the syrup and cut away the core and seeds. The fruit is particularly good for “mash” type recipes – mixed with yoghurt, made into a fresh chutney, blended with the syrup for icecream topping etc. Particularly good whole over cereal or muesli. You can reduce the syrup over heat until thick and syrupy and serve it as a sauce.