Usually, every fall, I buy quinces from Locust Grove in Milton, NY. This year, my two little trees finally bore fruit. Coincidentally, it was the first year I started spraying them with neem oil. I guess I’ll be doing that again next year! I think I could have let the fruit stay on the tree a little longer–they were still slightly greenish, with small imperfections and dimples. With this precious bounty, I decided to do something extremely plain so I could fully appreciate the fruit on its own.
It used to be, when I first became obsessed with making preserves, that I would be drawn to whatever esoteric recipes I could find. Spices and herbs were so much fun to add to fruit! But that inclination has faded. I’ve been focusing on simpler preserves for a while now. In this case, for my prized home-grown quinces I simply poached them in water and sugar. No lemon juice, no cardamom, no bay leaves or peppercorns (which are all lovely with quinces). The only tweak was that I used my slow cooker to poach them gently over the course of the day. This is the best way to bring out the lovely brick colors that these quinces turn.
Note that quinces don’t always change color. The other day I was given about five large yellow quinces. I decided to experiment–I wanted to roast them dry and see what happened. Usually I roast them with a bit of water and sugar. Using a lightly oiled cookie try, thick, skin-on slices with were roasted for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees. I turned them once half way through and sprinkled them with very little sugar. The skin crisped up and the insides softened, like roasted potatoes, but they were tart and fruity. They were golden brown, and not a bit pink. Just like that they might have been a nice side with a roasted meat. Instead I chose to toss them with two spoonfuls of quince jelly. They were hard to stop eating.
Poaching quinces will leave you with a lovely syrup. For thanksgiving, I used this syrup blended with a splash of leftover juice from some pickled sweet cherries to make an outrageously delicious shrub soda. Also, the poached quince slices are great on top of yogurt, see above, or even more delicious baked into an apple quince pie. That was thanksgiving dessert. I have a little bit less than a quart left–maybe for an all quince tart?
6-8 cups of sliced quinces, peel on (you can peel them if you like, but I don’t bother)
2 cups of water
1-2 cups of sugar (1 cup is my preference taste-wise, but 2 cups makes a thicker syrup)
In a slow cooker add all ingredients. Turn on low for 8 to 10 hours, depending on your cooker. Throughout the day check on it, and give it a stir. I like to pull the quinces when they are a deep red, and fully soft. You can cook them too much, and they begin to fall apart. A quick fix for that is to blend them, syrup and all, and you have a luxurious quince pudding. The texture when whipped up is so soft and dreamy–much fancier than just applesauce.