Ideal for use in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Related to apples, pears and plums, the quince is a member of the Rosacea (rose) family. One of the earliest known fruits, the fame of the humble quince ranges far and wide – it is said by some to be the ‘golden apples’ of Greek mythology as well as the Edenic fruit of the Tree of Knowledge.
This is slightly surprising, as quinces are not particularly seductive in appearance. Rather, they are a lumpy fruit, round or pear-shaped with yellow, slightly furry skin. In addition, due to their astringency, they must be cooked before eating. However, they are deliciously fragrant, and once cooked, the flesh turns rosy pink and the flavour develops a sweet, piquant richness.
Quince contains a naturally high level of pectin, therefore one of its main uses is as a preserve, both on its own and as an addition to other jams and chutneys. The original Portuguese name for quince is marmelo, which is how marmalade came into the English language. Quince is also a popular addition to fruit pies and it matches well with savoury foods such as cheese, pork and lamb.
Quinces are in season from late March to June and are available from selected supermarkets and grocery stores. Select fruit that is firm with smooth skin. Slight marks on the skin do not affect the fruit within, however fruit that is soft with deep bruising should be avoided.
Store quinces at room temperature for up to a week, or in the fridge, wrapped in paper towel, for up to a month.
Before cooking, lightly wash the fruit, gently rub away the surface fuzz, and peel. Quarter the fruit and remove the core, then use as desired.
Taste.com.au – June 2009