Golden-skinned and headily fragrant, quince is a tantalising orchard fruit that’s been historically used in English kitchens for centuries. But do you know how to cook with quince? Here’s a quick guide.
How to cook with quince
Quince does well roasted with bold spices, such as cinnamon and star anise. Try slow-roasting them and serving with ice cream, cream or on top of meringue, like in this show-stopping Roasted quince pavlova (recipe below). Alternatively, boil quince down to make jams, chutneys and jellies to serve alongside an epic cheeseboard. Or stuff them whole with minced lamb for a perfumed savoury showstopper.
“Quince’s tangy sweet-sourness is a perfect foil for richer meaty dishes, so try roasting them with pork or game.” say the guys at family orchard Chegworth Valley. “Alternatively, bake them slowly, basting with butter, lemon and sugar. You can poach them too. They’re delicious for breakfast, served with yoghurt or on top of porridge. Or use them to add extra-special flavour to a humble apple pie”.
Brogdale Farm has 19 varieties of quince trees in their famous heritage tree collection in Kent. They recommend adding quince to a hearty Moroccan lamb tagine. “If you’re prepping them ahead, drop the pieces into a mixture of lemon and water to prevent them browning.”
How to store quince
When you get your quince home, make sure to store them in a cool, dry place. They’ll last for up to a week, just be sure to keep them separate from other foods as their aroma is wonderful but fairly strong. Otherwise, store quince wrapped in kitchen paper in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Can you eat quince raw?
Quince has a hard, bitter flesh that needs cooking to get it at its best. How do you know if it’s ready to use? Your quince is ripe once it’s turned from green to yellow, and it smells wonderfully aromatic.
A show-stopping recipe for roasted quince pavlova
This is a true show-stopping dessert that’ll impress your guests no end. Spiced roasted quince like this works equally well on its own with cream or ice cream, or on top of rice pudding or porridge. The season for quince is short, so swap in other orchard fruit like apples or pears, if you can’t get hold of them.
For the pavlova
– 8 egg whites
– 200g dark muscovado sugar
– 160g golden caster sugar
For the quince
– 200g golden caster sugar
– 6 star anise
– 2 cinnamon sticks
– 3 cloves
– 6 quince, peeled and chopped into quarters (or other orchard fruit)
– 800ml double cream, to serve
1. Make the meringue the day before you’d like to serve it. Preheat the oven to 120°C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment, place a dinner plate in the centre and draw around it to use as a guideline.
2. Stir the sugars together in a bowl. Add the egg whites to another clean bowl and whisk, until they form soft peaks. Add a tablespoon of sugar to the egg whites and whisk to incorporate before adding another spoonful. Continue whisking until all the sugar is added and the meringue forms stiff peaks.
3. Spoon the meringue onto the baking tray, carefully spreading it inside the circle. Use the back of the spoon to gently press the centre of the meringue down, to create a crater.
4. Bake in the oven for 2 hours, then turn the oven off and leave the meringue to cool in the oven overnight. The next day, remove the meringue and preheat the oven to 180°C.
5. To make the quince, start with making a sugar syrup. Add the sugar and 1 litre of water to a saucepan, along with the star anise, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to the boil for 10 minutes. Add the quince quarters and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Remove the quince and place them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Boil the sugar syrup until it has reduced by half, then pour it over the quince. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes.
7. Peel the meringue carefully off the baking parchment and place onto your serving plate. Whip the cream until thickened, then spoon it into the crater of the meringue. Arrange the roasted quince slices on top and drizzle with the cooking juices to serve.