A quince tree is a beautiful addition to a garden or orchard. It has a delicate open flower during spring and produces large golden fruit that ripen between March and May. Unlike its close relatives — pears and apples — most quince varieties cannot be eaten raw. The quince has very firm dry flesh and tends to be more sour than sweet! The cooking process for poached quince tenderises the flesh and increases the sweetness of the fruit.
Spiced poached quince is a simple dessert that can be eaten warm or cold, on its own, or with plain yoghurt, vanilla icecream or custard. It is also a lovely addition to breakfast cereal.
1 kg quince (two large quince)
1/3 cup sugar*
1 vanilla bean halved longways
1 cinnamon quill
2 small star anise
Juice of half a lemon
1 litre water
* 1/3 cup of sugar weighs 67g and is equivalent to 5 tablespoons or 16 teaspoons of sugar. Recipes vary on the quantity of added sugar, but less is best. I would suggest using 1/3 cup of sugar initially and then try 3 tablespoons the next time you cook quinces. The vanilla bean also adds sweetness to the poached quince.
- Put all ingredients, except the quince into a 2 to 3 litre pot.
- Peel the quince and cut it into quarters. Remove the core and cut the quarters into half. Add the quince to your pot of water, lemon juice and spices.
- Heat until the water is simmering, and continue simmering the quinces until they are soft. They will turn pale pink in colour.
- Cooking time is 40 to 60 minutes. I would check the quinces at 40 minutes and then every 10 minutes after until they are cooked.
Benefits of poached quince
Poached quince adds variety to your fruit options. It can be prepared without added sugar, as the cooking process and the addition of vanilla increases the sweetness of the quince. Quince provides a good amount of fibre and a range of nutrients, including vitamin C and potassium.
Once poached, the quince stores well in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Raw quince is best kept at room temperature for up to one month. So before the quince season ends, I challenge you to buy at least one quince and experience the unique flavour of spiced poached quince.