Archives for posts with tag: quince

There is something so satisfying about preserving fruits. Jars, bottles and bowls of jewel coloured delights lined up on the pantry shelf just waiting to add a little something special to a meal.

I have loved my quince obsession and although there were a few ups and downs it resulted in a mountain of membrillo, jars of spiced quinces and bowls of quince curd.  One evening we had a platter of three types of quinces – spiced, curd and membrillo and we served oat cakes and cheese alongside the quince platter.

But my preserving time has not all been devoted to quinces – passion fruits too have been demanding attention.

I am so thrilled with the sprawling passion fruit/granadilla vine that has been bearing fruit continuously since December. Although we are now in mid winter and the plant has been lightly frosted at the top there are  still flowers and buds on the plant as well as between about one and two hundred slowly ripening fruits.  Over the last few weeks I have picked about eighty fruits and have made two batches of passion fruit cordial.


Passion Fruit Cordial

For every one cup of passion fruit pulp add one cup of water, 3/4 cup of light brown or white sugar and 3 T lemon juice.

Mix together well and bring slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer gently until slightly syrupy.  Strain – or not – and bottle in sterilised bottles. I like to strain about two thirds and mix that with the remaining unstrained one third.

passion fruit cordial

In my search for quince recipes I came across Ouma Babsie’s preserved quince recipe. I loved the fact that in this recipe the quinces are baked whole in the oven, then peeled and sliced before simmering in syrup and bottling. Since I was slow cooking some lamb in the oven it seemed to me to be the perfect time to make Ouma Babsie’s preserved quinces.

I popped the lamb into the oven and dashed out to run some errands knowing that the lamb would be cooking happily for four hours. I got waylaid in book shops and coffee shops but made it safely back home within my four hour time limit. The quinces, I forgot, had only needed two and a half to three hours – not four hours – in the oven. They were luckily fine if somewhat too soft to slice and simmer for Ouma Babsie’s preserved quinces. Very disappointing.

roast quince

I just happened to have a mountain of other quince recipes waiting to be made so after a quick rifle through the pages I found a couple of solutions. One: quince pancakes  which we had for breakfast the following morning. They were delicious both hot for breakfast, at room temperature later in the day and cold the next day.

And two: quince curd. I made it according the the recipe from the British Food Larder.  I pureed the pulp with an immersion blender and then cooked the curd exactly as per their recipe. Heaven. And a serious contender for a winning place in the ongoing war that wages in our household – second place maybe to passiflora edulis.

The pièce de résistance of all the quince cooking was the preserved spiced quinces. We ate the spiced pink slices with cream for dessert and with cheese. And we ate them straight out of the jar, too. We could not get enough of them.

This is a recipe I need to make again – soon. Very soon. This is a recipe I should be posting here. This is a recipe that came out of my head. This is a recipe for which there are no notes. It is a recipe that seemed so obvious. How could I have not written a thing down? This is what I think I did/what I would do next time:

Spiced quinces

  • Make a syrup with a 3:4 ratio (sugar:water) in a heavy bottomed pot (equal weight sugar and fruit?)
  • Add bay leaves, star anise, cloves and cinnamon to the mix while stirring to dissolve the sugar
  • Peel, core and slice the quinces and immerse them in the syrup
  • Bring to the boil
  • Simmer gently until the quinces are soft, the syrup is thick and both the quinces and syrup are beautifully pink – I cooked mine on the Godin fireplace for I think a few hours
  • Bottle in sterilised jars

I was slightly worried that I had overcooked the quinces and that the syrup was going to turn into toffee. When I eventually allowed myself to open a jar I was delighted to find that in fact I had spiced quinces in a quince jelly.

And stupid as I was not to make any notes,  I did at least take a few photographs.







For the past 48 hours I have been seduced by the fruit that caused all the trouble in the first place. Or was it the serpent that was the evil one?

The quince, it seems, way pre-dates the apple. Not only is it thought that it was a quince, and not an apple, that was growing so temptingly in the Garden of Eden, but it was also a quince that started the Trojan War.


A much loved fruit from mythical times through mediaeval times, Cydonia oblonga appears in De Re Coquinaria (On the Subject of Cooking), a collection of Roman recipes  thought to have been compiled in the late fourth or early fifth century and attributed to Caelius Apicius.




I was delighted to see that lovage features large in what must surely be the original cook book. I was charmed by the rose wine and the violet wine. The puréed parsnips sounded divine. I was intrigued by the In Ovis Hapalis – poached eggs served with pepper, lovage, nuts and honey. I’ll skip the stuffed dormouse, sow’s udder and the rose petal and calf’s brain dish.

But I digress. The quince is, in some quarters, out of favour and is certainly not appreciated by those with no intimate knowledge of  its charms. But it is a truly rewarding  fruit if you are prepared to spend an hour or 48 in its company in the kitchen.

The quince, along with the prickly pear, was one of the fruits that was held in high regard by my mother. It was one of the fruits that for me was a symbol of her idyllic childhood spent swimming in farm dams and rivers. In my childhood, venison as well as ‘ mock venison’  was always served with quince jelly.

I spent quite a few hours in Google’s company when I came home from the shops with six velvety chartreuse quinces. By the time I had scoured Google  – and all my recipe books too – I found myself running back down to the greengrocer to buy an additional box of quinces. And then I settled in for a weekend in thrall to the quince.

The first thing I made was membrillo. Well, to be honest I actually made a version of  River Cottage Quince Cheese.   I followed their instructions exactly except I used less sugar – 75% of the  weight of the quince pulp. And mine took a little longer than theirs, possibly because I cooked it on top of our anthracite burning Godin stove. I was rather pleased that I didn’t have to use any additional energy to cook the membrillo.

While the membrillo was cooking I made supper – shoulder of lamb seasoned with salt and pepper cooked on a bed of leeks, quince halves, and thyme. Cook it at a low temperature of 150C for about four hours, tightly covered, and you’ll end up with silky leeks, soft quinces with a haunting depth of flavour and lamb that falls off the bone.

Thank you to Apicius for the idea of cooking quinces with leeks.  Now I need to get back to  De Re Coquinaria to see how to cook that flamingo I have tethered in the back yard.


More quince recipes:

Quince Tarte Tatin from David Lebovitz

Quince Curd – The British Food Larder

Quince Pancakes – Saveur,  adpated from The Breakfast Book  by Marion Cunningham

And then of course Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has a few other quince recipes worth trying as does  Nigel Slater.