Quince may be the ultimate overlooked fall fruit. A close relative to the apple and pear, quince comes into season for just a short time, from late summer until the New Year, and few farmers market shoppers within that timeframe will likely even try it. What is this strange fall fruit, and what can you do with it?
Quince is an aromatic fruit whose flesh is too hard and sour to eat raw, but is full of pectin—the stuff that makes jelly “gel.” For this reason, you’ll most commonly find quince inside jams, jellies, compotes, and marmalades. On Cooking Light you’ll find a recipe for Quince-Lemon Marmalade, which is made simply with quince, lemon, sugar, and water. A similar find on Taste of Home provides a recipe for Quince Orange Marmalade, which is the same formula but with orange juice and peel.
Marmalades and jams aren’t the only way to enjoy quince. Merely roasting them in the oven tones down the sourness and softens them up nicely. Epicurious.com features a lovely autumn recipe for Maple Roasted Quince and Sweet Potatoes that would make a fine addition to any Thanksgiving or holiday menu. Over at Martha Stewart, you’ll find a sweet recipe for Roasted Pears and Quinces with Tangerine Zest—a dollop of fresh whipped cream would complete this light dessert idea.
Quince, With Meats
And due to its sour flavor that comes through even after cooking, quince is often well-paired with winter meat dishes like pork, lamb, and duck. If you have any fave recipes that pair fruits like pears or apples with these meats, try substituting them with quince for a uniquely aromatic twist. The Chicago Sun-Times features a recipe for Pork Roasted with Quince, and Taste.com.au has a tempting recipe for Slow-Roasted Lamb & Quince (with a wonderful photo to boot).
Of course, being a relative of pears and apples, quince is a wonderful choice to use in baked pies, tarts, and crisps. It’s as easy as taking your fave fall recipe and subbing in quince for the normal fruit. Note, however, that due to the particularly hard flesh inside quince, you may want to lightly steam, sauté, or poach the fruit before you use it in your recipe—so that you’ll be sure it bakes up super soft and juicy. Maple syrup or honey used as sweeteners will bring out the aromatics of quince, and any autumnal spices like cinnamon, cloves, or star anise will also complement the fruit.
For More, Try...
Perhaps you’d like to dive right in and try using fresh quince? Here at OA, we have a number of fall-ready recipes that you can try out with this unusual fruit. There’s our recipe for classic Apple Butter, which you can try with all quince, or a mixture of half quince and half apple. Or how about our recipe for Baked Organic Apples Stuffed with Winter Fruit Compote—try using quince in place of chopped pears for the fruit filling. And finally, there’s the elegant Pomegranate Poached Pears recipe, which you can easily try making with whole quince instead of pear.
Image adapted from Maggie Hoffman, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0