Quince are one of my favorite fruits, and have about dozen quince trees that line my potager garden, so when the fruit starts to ripen, I start thinking about what to do with it.Since it is a relative of both apples and pears, using those fruits together always works. Poach them together with sugar and maybe a hint of salt, even an herb, like a single bay leaf or a few pepper corns or juniper berries. I like to saute them with onions and duck breast, then finish off with balsamic glaze, maybe a sprinkle of Sel de Figue. (If figs are still available, I’d add those too)
Quince is good stuffed with sausage and walnuts and baked, like an apple. One of my favorite of quince dishes is to soak peeled, sliced quince overnight in red wine and sugar, then drain and used them to make a Quince Tart Tatin.
The classic French recipe for quince is Pate de Coing or Quince Paste, basically the same as Spain’s Membrillo. I love these dense, sweet pastes – essentially quince cooked with sugar and a tiny bit of water, but I’ve never been very successful at making it, unlike my neighbors in France who are all expert at it. My efforts have never jelled properly so my so-called paste was were impossible to slice. It could be spooned like jelly at best, but really too sweet for that.
Quince Slices in Vanilla Syrup
However, this recipe for Quince Slices in Vanilla Syrup is easy and successful. Serve it for dessert on its own or with a simple cookie or ice cream. The quince slices are also good over warm oatmeal in the morning.
Makes about 4 pints.
6 quinces, about 3 pounds
4 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, about 8 inches long
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Peel and core the quinces and carefully remove and discard the seeds. Cut the fruits lengthwise into slices ½ thick. Set aside.
Combine the sugar, water, vanilla bean and lemon juice in a stainless-steel or other non-reactive saucepan large enough to hold the quince. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and continue to boil, stirring often, until a light-to-medium –thick syrup forms, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the quince slices. Poach the fruits until just barely tender when pierced with the tines of a fork, about 15 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending upon the maturity of the fruit.
Using a slotted utensil, tightly pack the quince slices into clean, dry jars with sealable lids. Ladle in the hot syrup to within ½-inch of the rims. Using a damp cloth, wipe the rims clean. Cover with the lids and process for 40 minutes in a hot water bath.
Remove the jars and let them cool for at least 12 hours or overnight. Check the lids for a complete seal.
Store the sealed jars in a cool, dark place. The quince will keep for up to 1 year. Once opened, keep them refrigerated. Store any jar lacking a good seal in the refrigerator for up to one week. If you don’t want to can them, keep them covered in the refrigerator but be sure to eat them within the week.