Perhaps you’ve seen one of these pale-green fruits in your CSA or your local grocery store. What are they? And what do you do with them?
Quince. They’re related to pears and apples, but they’re not like either one. They’re like a perfumed apple, with the subtle sweetness of a pear, but with denser flesh, and a little drier than a juicy pear. Apparently, you can eat them raw but I never have. Instead, these are heaven when poached or roasted.
Poached fruit desserts in fall should always contain quince. Raw, they are hard. Poached, they fall apart a bit. Soft. And, they turn pink. So what more could you want?
Famously, quince are used to make membrillo, a thick, sweet paste that you can slice and eat with Manchego cheese and marcona almonds. If I had membrillo around regularly, that might be my only afternoon snack. Try it. It’s wonderful. And with Elise’s simple recipe, you can make it yourself right now.
If you have eaten quince before, it’s probably as quince jelly. Clotilde has a recipe, adapted from Christine Ferber, for this rosy perfumed jelly. As she writes, “we’ll pop a jar open and spread some on our morning slices of pain au levain, with or without a thin insulation layer of semi-salted butter. I’m sure it will fare well on the tender flesh of a split yogurt scone, too, and I look forward to brushing the top of my apple tarts with it for shine, as is traditional.” I’ll do that soon, with gluten-free bread, scones, and tarts.
Luisa at The Wednesday Chef has a lovely recipe for poached quince. She uses sugar, a cinnamon stick, and a vanilla bean. I might use maple syrup, star anise, and that vanilla. Maybe some fresh ginger too. Once you have the hang of poaching fruit, you can play with whatever ingredients you have on hand.
My friend Shuna Lydon, who is a passionate, talented pastry chef in New York, recently told me on Twitter that she saves all the peels and cores from the quinces. Instead of throwing them out, she gently simmers them in water and sugar to make an incredible simple syrup for poaching other fruits later.
See? Even the peels are useful. If you haven’t seen any quinces in your CSA, you might want to go find some.
What do you do with quinces? We’d love to know more.
You can find more of Shauna and Danny’s recipes, essays, photographs and words of comfort about living gluten-free at Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef. Shauna shares food ideas and answers questions on Twitter. She also pins photographs and recipes on Pinterest and Foodily. There’s a great community at the Facebook fan page for Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.