The humble quince, once heralded as the golden apple of the gods, has sadly lost favor. If you’ve never even heard of it, don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone! Many people would struggle to know what to do with quince fruit. When ripe they smell like a beautifully fragrant bunch of flowers and once cooked have a unique and quite wonderful flavor.
What You'll Learn Today
How To Cook Quince?
If you’ve never seen a quince, it basically looks like a morph between an apple and a pear. Once ripe the skin is a glorious golden yellow and a soft fuzz of fine hairs.
The skin can be rather tough, particularly in fruits grown in non-tropical climates. The flesh is quite astringent, although some people enjoy eating the fruits raw despite the fairly bitter taste. However, once cooked, quince becomes something quite different.
Some people even believe that it was a quince, rather than an apple that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Quinces are certainly not new and originating in the middle east were spread through Europe even in Roman times. Today Turkey is responsible for producing more than a quarter of the quinces worldwide.
Should you have lived in medieval Europe, you would likely be very familiar with the quince as it was used in many recipes.
In Spain quinces are made into a jelly called “Membrillo” which is traditionally served with Manchego cheese and indeed quince jelly is quite delicious and goes very well with all kinds of cheese!
In Portugal the quince is called a “Marmelo” and it is believed this is where the word “Marmalade” comes from as quinces were used in recipes where they were stewed with honey to create a sweet and slightly sour Marmalade.
Indeed if you do dare to cut up a very ripe quince into thin slithers, having first removed all of the fuzz from the skin, as this can add to its bitterness, dipping the slices in honey before eating can make them really rather pleasant.
A rather magical thing happens when you cook a quince, the hard flesh softens and becomes a delicate pink color. But perhaps even more magical is what happens to the flavor, the bitterness is removed and replaced with a most aromatic delight.
They can be stewed, roasted, poached, baked, whatever you like. The most important thing is that it’s done at a low temperature, for a long time.
Turn them into a simple desert, by poaching with a drizzle of honey and add some spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, just a tiny sprinkle of each.
You can also half-bake quinces and store them for prolonged periods in sugar syrup in a mason jar. Providing the jar was sterilized and is air tight they should keep for up to one year.
Quince is also particularly easy for turning into jams and jellies because it has a high level of pectin.
What Goes With Quince?
If you’re wondering what else goes with quince, then apple is a popular pairing. Quince can be added to all kinds of apple dishes, from pies to crumbles. It adds an extra floral dimension, without overwhelming the dish.
It is also excellent for making into a sauce to go with game, anything with a rich meat flavor. From partridge to pork, quince is a good partner.
As I mentioned earlier, quince famously goes with Manchego cheese in Spain. But it is good with all kinds of other cheeses too.
How To Bake Quince?
Here is a simple baked quince recipe to help get you going, it’s delicious served with vanilla ice cream!
- 4 ripe quinces (600g), de-fuzzed
- 1 lemon (2 tbsp) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Butter for greasing
- Set the oven to 375°F.
- Wash the quinces and dry them off. Cut lengthwise into two halves and remove the core and seeds.
- Place the two halves, cut side up into a lightly greased baking dish.
- Combine lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
- Divide the lemon mixture equally over the quince halves.
- Pour ½ a cup of water into the dish with the quinces and place in the centre of the oven.
- Cook for around 40 minutes until the quinces are nice and tender.
- Allow the quinces to cool for at least half an hour before serving.
When looking at some of my favorite quince recipes, you really need to start with quince paste or “Membrillo” as it’s called in Spain. It doesn’t have to be eaten with cheese and in fact, it’s delicious just eaten as a delightfully sweet and floral tasting confection when cut into chunks.
Quince paste has different names around the world and is popular during the Christmas holidays.
It’s known as Quince Cheese in the United State, particularly in New England, Dulce de Membrillo in Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, Marmelada in Portugal and Brazil, Pâte de Coing in France, Quittenkäse in Germany, Birsalmasajt in Hungary and simply Quince Paste in Canada, Australia, and the UK.
The sugar content acts as a preservative, so it will keep for a long time, either in the refrigerator or even at room temperature. You can also choose to freeze it for even longer preservation.
- 2 ¼ lbs of ripe quince fruits, that have been de-fuzzed, washed, peeled, cored, and diced into small chunks
- 3 ½ cups of granulated sugar
- 1 lemon squeezed to produce 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 cup of water
- Put a small clean china plate into the refrigerator to get cold.
- Stir the lemon juice into the diced quince to prevent them from browning.
- Meanwhile, put the sugar and water into a heavy-based pan and stir with a wooden spoon to start dissolving the sugar.
- Place the pan over medium heat and add the quinces.
- Stir occasionally until the sugar has melted and the mixture is bubbling.
- Turn down the heat so that it is on a very low simmer and cook for one hour, giving the mixture an occasional stir to check to see it isn’t sticking to the base of the pan, if it is further reduce heat and add a little extra water if necessary
You should notice the color of the mixture changing as it cooks to a deep ruby red.
- If you have a candy thermometer, it should read about 220°F after one hour.
- Take your plate out of the refrigerator and do a cold plate test. Take a spoonful of the mixture and drizzle it thickly onto the plate.
Wait for about a minute for the mixture to cool then push your clean finger through it. If the mixture forms wrinkles then it’s ready, if not keep simmering and return your plate to the refrigerator and re-test after a further 15 minutes.
- Grease a glass baking dish measuring 8×8 inches.
- Blend the mixture with a stick blender or other type that won’t be affected by the heat until you have a smooth consistency.
- Pour the hot, now smooth mixture into the glass dish and cover with plastic wrap.
- Refrigerate for at least 24 hours until the paste has set firmly.
- Turn the dish upside down over a plate and shake it out, or use a knife or a spatula to help release it.
- Cut into serving-sized chunks or leave as larger pieces and wrap in greaseproof paper.
- You can leave it like this or dehydrate it in a dehydrator to preserve it for longer. This gives it a more jelly candy consistency.
In this video, you can learn how to make a traditional Turkish quince dessert:
Beef Or Lamb Stew With Quince
From something sweet, let’s move on to something savory, this delicious quince stew recipe is perfect if you’re looking for a dish that’s easy to cook but bursting with flavor. The meat is so tender it melts in the mouth and the quince adds a beautifully subtle fruity flavor.
4 Servings. Prep time – 10 minutes. Cooking time – 2 ½ hours plus (slow-cooked)
- 2 lbs of good quality casserole beef or lamb
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 28 oz tin of chopped tomatoes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 sticks of cinnamon
- 10 cloves
- 2 cups of vegetable stock
- 4 quinces
- Slice the meat into cubes then season with some salt and pepper.
- Put the flour onto a plate and roll the cubes of meat in the flour.
- Take a heavy-based skillet and add the olive oil, brown the meat in batches.
- Put the browned meat into a large, heavy-based cooking pot with a lid or a casserole dish with a well-fitting lid.
- Add the tomatoes, stock, cinnamon, and cloves and simmer on low for around 2 hours. Stir occasionally to check nothing is sticking.
- Alternatively, place in a preheated oven set to 390°F and cook for two hours.
- Take the quinces, remove the fuzz, wash and dry then peel and core them. Then cut them into chunks of a similar size to the beef.
- Add the quince to the pot and stir in.
- Cook for a further 30 to 40 minutes until the quince is tender without being mushy.
You can also choose to add other ingredients such as carrots, potatoes, or sweet potatoes. If you do decide to do this, add an extra dessert spoon of sugar to the pot.
Quince Pie Recipe
I just love a really good apple pie, with large cinnamon apple chunks and a delicious shortcrust pastry. Quince pie is very similar, but the flavor is something quite incredible. If you get the chance to make this I recommend it!
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup unsalted chilled butter, cut up into small cubes
- 3 tbsp iced water
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Note, prepare the pastry as instructed before preparing the filling or your quinces will all turn brown and nasty looking)
- 3 lbs of ripe quinces that have been de-fuzzed, washed, peeled, cored, and diced into ¼ inch chunks
- Juice of one lemon to mix in with the quince chunks to prevent browning
- ¼ cup of honey
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice mix (cinnamon, allspice, ginger & clove)
- 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 cups water (or you can use port or sherry)
- 1 egg beaten to create an egg wash
- In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, and salt together.
- Add the chunks of cold butter and using cold hands work the butter into the dry ingredients using the tips of your fingers. The end result should look like coarse breadcrumbs. You may prefer to do this in a food processor.
- Combine the iced water and vinegar and add it to the crumb mixture one tablespoon at a time working it with a knife or on pulse in a food processor.
- When the mixture becomes a dough that comes together easily but is not wet, stop adding the liquid.
- Turn the dough onto a clean, lightly floured work surface.
- Divide the dough into two halves, one slightly larger than the other.
- With the heel of your hand press each of the dough balls out to produce circular shapes of around one inch in thickness.
- Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
- Remove the larger disc from the plastic wrap and on a lightly floured surface use a rolling pin to roll it out so it is an 11-inch circle.
- Grease a 9 inch, non-stick pie dish with some butter.
- Roll your 11-inch circle of rolled-out dough around your rolling pin and transfer it over your pie dish, lift up the edges and ease it in carefully so you don’t break it. Push it gently into the pie dish.
- With a sharp knife, cut off any excess. If you do have any holes, moisten the area around the hole with a little water, and using the excess pastry, repair the hole by tapping it into place.
- Place cling wrap over the pie dish and return it to the refrigerator for a further hour.
- Meanwhile, prepare your quinces.
- In a large heavy-based pan, combine the quinces, honey, ¼ cup of the sugar, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and your liquid of choice, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and stir occasionally until the fruit has become tender (10 to 15 minutes).
- Turn on the oven to 350°F to begin warming.
- Strain the fruit, but reserve the liquid in the pan.
- Combine the remaining sugar, salt, spices, and flour in a bowl.
- Add this, along with the butter to the pan of the reserved liquid, and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and stir continually until it has thickened. Set it to one side to cool.
- Add the quince and the lemon juice to the cooling pan and stir well.
- Remove the pie base from the refrigerator and line it with aluminum foil and add some weights to keep it flat. Bake the pie base for 15 minutes until golden.
- Meanwhile, on a clean, lightly floured surface, roll out the remaining dough disc so it is just larger than a 9-inch circle.
- Add the pie filling to the baked pie base and spread out evenly.
- Paint egg wash around the top of the pie crust edge so it forms a bond with the top crust when you apply it.
- By wrapping the top, still uncooked crust around your rolling pin and spread it evenly over your pie. Using your finger, tap it around the top edge of your pie crust and crimp as desired before cutting off any excess.
- Paint some egg wash over the top of your uncooked pie crust as this will help to give it a golden sheen when cooked. Cut several small slits into the top of the crust to allow steam to escape while the pie is cooking.
- Place the pie back in the oven and cook for around 35 to 45 minutes until it is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for around 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
Serve your pie with vanilla ice cream, or heavy cream for a delicious dessert.
I hope you’re all fired up and ready to try out some of these delicious quince recipes and that I’ve given you a little insight as to what to do with quince fruit.
I guess it lost flavor as it isn’t a fruit you can really just pick and eat straight from the tree, but it is so utterly delicious once cooked that I think it’s definitely a fruit we should revive and welcome back into our kitchens.