One of the delights of Autumn for me is that it is the season of the quince. In recent years, I haven’t managed to find any but this October I got hold of a box of 9 of the tempting fruit. Like apples and cherries this year, quince trees have also provided a bumper harvest.
Back in October the quinces were barely ripe. Very firm, pale yellowy-green in colour with little of their renown aroma. As the weeks passed, the skins turned waxy yellow and the spicy scent increased. Every time I opened the box, I inhaled a waft of their fruity smell. If you haven’t experienced the aroma, it is intensely appley with a hint of sweet aniseed.
To be honest, I don’t think the flavour of the fruit is that pronounced, more like pear than apple, but the texture makes it very different to other tree fruits. There is a slightly granular, rich texture to the flesh and a much firmer, almost chewy bite. Quince holds up exceptionally well to prolonged cooking, making them a winner for the slow-cooker.
Raw quince is too hard and dry to enjoy raw; it also discolours very quickly. If you peel and core the fruit and put it in a bowl of lemon juice and water this helps keep the discolouration to a minimum. However, if you want to enjoy the fruit “au natural”, hold back on the lemon and the fruit will take on a rich, rusty red colour as it cooks.
My recipe this week is simple but requires a little bit of preparation to start with. Once it’s all in the slow cooker you can sit back and enjoy the festive fruit and spice smells that are emitted as the quince cooks through. If you can’t get hold of quince, firm pears will work just fine.
- 1 unwaxed lemon
- 1 unwaxed orange
- 3 large quince (approx. 1.5kg)
- 500ml fruity red wine
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 vanilla pod, split
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken
1. Use a vegetable peeler to pare the rind from the lemon and orange. Put 3/4 of the rind to one side for flavouring the wine, and cut the remainder into thin strips for decoration – if you don’t want to do this, you can use all the rind in the mulled wine.
2. Extract the lemon juice and pour into a mixing bowl. Add the empty lemon halves. Fill the bowl with water to to 2/3 full and set aside ready for the quince. Extract the juice from the orange and set aside for the wine.
3. Peel the quince thinly. Cut into quarters and slice out the core. As soon as you prepare each quarter, push down into the lemony water to help prevent discolouration.
4. Now prepare the mulled wine. Pour the wine and orange juice into a saucepan. Add the sugar and heat gently stirring until the sugar dissolves, then bring to the boil.
5. Drain the quince very well and place in the slow cooker dish. Add the pared rind, vanilla and cinnamon and pour over the hot mulled wine. Cover with the lid, switch the cooker on to High and cook for 3 hours, turning the fruit every hour to ensure even cooking, until the quince is tender.
6. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the quince to a heatproof dish. Cover loosely with foil. Strain the wine into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10-12 minutes until reduced by half and slightly syrupy. Pour over the quince, mix gently, and leave to cool completely, then cover and chill until ready to serve.
7. While the quince is cooking or cooling, bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and cook the shreds of lemon and orange rind for 2-3 minutes to soften them. Drain well and leave to cool.
8. To serve, arrange the quince quarters in a serving dish and spoon over a little syrup. Sprinkle with citrus shreds if using and serve the quince with the remaining mulled wine syrup on the side. Delicious accompanied with vegan vanilla ice cream 🙂
I hope you have a very happy Christmas and I look forward to posting again for the new year. Seasonal best wishes to you and thank you for your interest in my blog.