It’s quince time again. We have a smallish tree out in Todi, and I wait patiently for it to produce its meager few kilos of fruit each year. At least that’s what I’m thinking, until the fruit is actually ready to pick.
Then I remember that I don’t really like quince jam. And while my husband loves quince paste (cotognata in Italian, membrillo in Spanish) I think it’s a lot of effort for something that - in my humble opinion - is nothing to write home about. (although I'd like to try Judy's, if only because her molds are so cute)
A couple of years ago I made a quince crostata that I loved. But my friend Sienna had done the hard work already. She gave me a jar of quince jam, as well as freezing a bag full of cleaned slices of quince. (I told you she gives good food).
And it is hard work. That’s the problem. Quinces are one of those fruits that you can’t eat raw. They are as hard as wood and I feel like I risk losing a finger every time I try to cut one down the middle. And don’t even get me started on peeling them.
Getting back to this weekend. Our lopsided quince tree was leaning particularly heavy in one direction, so burdened was it with fruit. I had to do something, right? Since I’m on a semi diet (a girl’s got to try, right?) I didn’t want to make any fancy dessert, so decided to just poach them. That sounded somewhat easy, and certainly not so fattening.
It turned out to be super easy. Especially since I got my house guest Jane to do the cutting and peeling. Then all I had to do was throw them in a pot of water, along with some sugar, spices and a handful of raisins. Even though they started out hard as wood, after about 40 minutes they turned pillowy soft, like cooked apples or pears, but with more texture. And were incredibly delicious. The tart, almost tannic, flavor of the quinces really comes through in this recipe.
Now that I’ve found an easy recipe for quinces, I’ll be making them more often. Even though part of the recipe involves making sure I have a willing house guest on hand.
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
Get someone strong to cut the quinces into quarters, lengthwise. Get a house guest to peel and core each wedge, and then slice those sections into smaller pieces. Make sure you put the quinces in water as you clean them, so they don’t oxidate and turn dark.
Put the quinces and raisins in a pot, and fill with water until just covered. Add sugar according to how sweet you like it.
Add the spices (I went heavy on the ginger, since I like it a bit spicy). Cloves would have been nice too, I think, but I didn’t have any.
Give it a good stir and cook at a gentle simmer, uncovered, for about 45 minutes, or until tender. Keep checking, since you don’t want them to turn in to mush.
Serve warm or at room temperature. You can top it with mascarpone, which I would have done if I wasn't