Saturday, 14 May 2011

Ode to Quince

The sweet aroma of quinces pervades our humble abode. If only this Blog had a smell button you would be in for a treat! Quince is a fruit I have held a life long fascination for.

I still remember clearly the first time I caught a glimpse of yellow in a tree near where I lived in Bern, Switzerland. The tree was quite small but there were huge fruit hanging in it. I pointed to that tree and asked my grandma what those were. "Quinces," came the reply. "Can we eat one?" "No, you cannot eat them, they are hard like wood." And with that the topic of quinces seemed over for my Grandmother but only just beginning for me.

Quinces were deemed an old fashioned fruit. In our family of food lovers we never ate quinces. When later I discovered quince jelly in the Migros supermarket it was a must have, my grandma obliged and thus my life long love affair with quinces began.

The delicate aroma and colour of the jelly was beautiful in every way, the picture on the label of the jar was studied while eating my breakfast of bread, butter and quince jelly. Switzerland having four official languages everything must be written in German, French and Italian to cater for its linguistically diverse population. The names of quinces in three languages were memorised: Quitten Gelee,  GelĂ©e de coings, Mela Cotogna.

The Quince is like a book with seven seals, you must be patient as you unlock this fruit: The shape of the quince is like no other fruit's, it looks a bit like an over sized, mangled and misshapen pear. Even the beautiful yellow colour of the skin is camouflaged under a light brown down. If you sniff it, it has a delicate fruity smell. If you cut it you noticed how woody and unpalatable it seems. The inside looks a lot like an apple or pear to both of which the quince is related to. The flesh will turn brown with exposure to air just like an apple or pear so having a bowl of acidulated water (water with a splash of lemon or lime juice) ready is advisable.  

Now comes the dilemma: Will it be stewed fruit? Quince Jam? (the term marmalade originally meant quince jam from the Portuguese word "marmelo" meaning Quince), or maybe some quince jelly? Whatever you decide on as soon as the fruit is cooking the unforgettable aroma will waft through your kitchen and the previously bland looking fruit will turn a beautiful ruby red.

I am attempting a Maggie Beer recipe: Quince, Chocolate and Almond Tart. You can find the recipe HERE.
I have cooked too much of the quince and used the leftover fruit to make my first quince ice cream.
Quince, Chocolate and Almond Tart with Quince ice cream

Quince Ice Cream Recipe:
For the Quince ice cream I made a basic Vanilla ice cream based on this Tessa Kiros' recipe. Just before I poured the custard into the ice cream maker I added 2 tablespoons of Amaretto liqueur, the left over quince finely cubed as well as the left over syrup from stewing the quince. I did not have any glycerin otherwise I would have added a teaspoon to the mixture to help it freeze less hard. The result is a refreshing ice cream with a slightly tangy quince flavour and a hint of bitter almond from the Amaretto.


  1. Hi Monika, your tart looks delicious. I'm still waiting for quinces to form on my tree. A friend gave me a young sapling about 5 years ago and where I'd put it it was a little overshadowed but I've pruned hard back so the quince has room to breath so fingers crossed for fruit this year :)
    Thanks for sharing your memories with us x

  2. Monika your blog is wonderful when I read it I am transported to another place.You describe everything with such detail.

  3. In Belgium those pears are called kwee peren. I have had jelly with them and had a friend tell me that they were not very good to eat like they come of the tree. You are a good writer, and very artistic. Your shrines look marvellous. I need to read your egg painting method again, it is completely new to me. The eggs look wonderful with the leaf on them! You are long ways now, from Switzerland to Australia... That is faaaaarrrrrr. Thank you for subscribing to my blog. See you on Milliande! ;o)))

  4. YUMMY for my tummy :)). monika, i love your blog title..Pearls and Plunder, clever one! xo