It is quince time, at least in the northern hemisphere. My quince should be ripening up around now, turning from green to golden and losing their fuzz. Unfortunately, my quince tree is a good 18 hour drive away. But for those of you with quince a little closer to home, here are some ideas for your fall heirloom fruit.
Many people say you cannot eat quince straight off the tree because it is too sour and/or astringent. This, in my opinion, is rubbish. Did not the Owl and the Pussycat dine on mince and slices of quince? Of course they did. And you can too! My quince, when ripe, smelled fragrant like Fruit Striped gum. Tasted like it, too.
But if you’re not feeling that Edward Lear kind of vibe with your fruit, then by all means treat it like you would any other baking apple. Core it, brush it with some butter and sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and bake it till tender and juicy. It also makes a terrific filing for a crisp, crumble, cobbler or whatever you like to call it.
For those more inclined towards the stovetop, quince makes a beautiful dark red chutney. Again, just approach it like you would an apple or pear. Quince jelly or compote is also a good way to put up this fruit. Quince is naturally high in pectin, so it is perfectly suited for jams and jellies. It is rumored that the first marmalades were made of quince. This marmalade was considered an aphrodisiac, for probably no other reason than the fact that quince was thought of as an exotic fruit.
If you are lucky enough to have a quince tree, please don’t just let these fabulous fruits fall to the ground to rot! Consider yourself fortunate and get into your kitchen!
And if anyone would like to pick from our tree come early November, it is the house next to the Tuscarora Academy outside of Port Royal. Although it is a good tree for climbing, please don’t. Bring your own ladder.