Friday, December 29, 2006
Quince in Syrup (and ramblings on quince not being a "nana fruit")
My father all but cracked up laughing when I told him that I wanted to make this recipe. Why is it that people think quince is a nana's fruit? I suspect it has something to do with the Victorians leaving quince to scent linen cupboards, but this is originally, as far as I know, a Central Asian/Middle Eastern fruit, and the uses for it in jellies and as a sweet accent in savoury dishes are astounding (Central Asian and Middle Eastern dishes often act as harmonious offerings of the tart and sweet, the savoury and spicy - a dramatic study of balance). A nana fruit this is not. One does not or should not eat a quince directly off the tree, for it is incredibly hard and astringent. However, of the family of pears and apples it is, so like these fruit, it is best (in my opinion) cooked in any manner. It is once warmed through that the gorgeous tropical and floral aroma of the quince is released and casts spellbound gazes on all those whose olfactory organs are even minimally functioning.
Quince in Syrup
(from Tamasin Day-Lewis' Tamasin's Kitchen Bible)
juice of 1/2 lemon
8oz (225g) unrefined sugar
2lb (900g) quince (either 4 small or two really large ones) that have had the down scrubbed off them, halved (do not remove pips or stone) and sitting in acidulated water
1) Fill a pan with 1 3/4 pints (1 litre) boiling water and add lemon juice and sugar.
2) Add quince cut side down and simmer until tender (add more water as you go to keep them covered), anywhere between 20 and 60 minutes. Do not, however, let the fruit fall apart.
3) When tender, remove quince, and once cool enough to handle, cut out the cores and put them back in the pan.
4) Reduce the syrup by simmering.
5) Return quince to simmering liquid and cool until syrup becomes thick and reddish, approximately 75 minutes.
6) Arrange quice halves cut side up on a serving plate and pour syrup on top (it will turn into a jelly as it cools).
I do not dispute that this dessert takes a while before you can eat it, but it is worth it. Besides, you get to inhale that gorgeous aroma the entire time, and that cannot be bettered. Alas, the quince season seems to have ended here, so this will be my last quince entry for a while.