They often end up in the too hard basket…these hard, knobbly, misshapen fruits that are covered in fuzz, but when I see quinces first appear at the market at the beginning of Autumn, my heart always does a little dance.
For these brutish members of the fruit world, will magically turn into an ambrosial delicacy when they are treated with a little tender loving care.
I really do wonder who first discovered that when they are slowly simmered for many hours that they transform into a soft fleshy fruity feast with a deep ruby red colour. They must’ve been amazed and quite pleased with themselves with this revelation!
That cooking process breaks down the tough cellulose turning it into fructose, rendering the cooked fruit soft and tender, with a wonderful fragrant aroma.
They are a nuisance to peel, simply because they are so thick skinned, but scrub them well, peel and core them just as you would a large apple, but with a very sharp knife as they are hard going. Sometimes I don’t even bother coring them until after they are cooked, for ease, and then I just scoop out the seeds with a melon baller.
The centres will also discolour when exposed to air, so have your poaching liquid ready, or drop them in acidulated water as you are preparing them to keep them nice.
If you are lucky enough to have a friend with a tree that will bring you a bounty of these, like I have (thanks Miss Melly!) then get to work and cook up a batch long and slow and keep them in the fridge for a couple of weeks or freeze for later.
They are gorgeous on their own with vanilla bean ice cream or greek yogurt, but I love them in this crostata that I always bake to herald in the very cosy season of the quince.
Header Image by Melanie Ryan @nourishness