Story by Elly King
Quince jelly has always been a favourite spread of mine. Lashings on fresh white bread more than satisfies a breakfast sweet tooth. It was something that my mother loved to have in the cupboard, something she’d pick up from local market stalls, small jars of rose coloured sweetness with pretty lid covers made from fabric scraps.
When I first saw what a quince looked like in all its natural glory I was utterly fascinated that such a hard, knobbly, lime-gold fruit could produce the luscious pink of the quince jelly. The quince is a not so distant relative of the apple and pear. They look like an oddly disfigured golden delicious apple with a slight fuzz on the skin. Their fibrous flesh is too tart to eat raw but with cooking the quince becomes the right amount of sharp sweetness and turns blush pink. The change in colour is the result of the tannins in the fruit.
It seems to be raining quince at the moment. My local market had them piled high, front and centre on the weekend. And they were practically giving them away. Who could say no? The wonky yellow fruit has a short season and they can be used in a variety of ways so that meant justifying armloads of them. Literally. I’ve not cooked with quince often but ideas of homemade jellies and stews were popping into my head.
A vegetarian Moroccan style tagine was the first dish to welcome the quince. The future addition of lamb to the tagine excites me even more. Sunday night was a simple stewed quince with cinnamon and brown sugar, served up with vanilla bean icecream. I can just as easily imagine it on my morning muesli though. Requests for a Chilean style dulce de membrillo (quince paste) could mean a cheese and wine indulgence in the near future. Or a twist on the traditional strudel.
Grab some quinces while you can this season, bring the fragrance of autumn to your kitchen.
About the author: Elly King is the Australian Website Editor for JamieOliver.com