When one of my friends offered me some Quince from her garden, I just could not refuse. I love these knobbly, hard fruit. The scent from a bowl of quince sitting in the dining room is so superior to any room fragrance or candle that can be bought, it is heavenly. A heady smell of fruit, sweet and perfumed.
But of course, they need to be eaten! Quince need to be cooked, and are perfect added to an apple pie or crumble, adding a special layer of flavour. They are also a wonderful stand alone fruit, and make a wonderful jam or membrillo.
I chopped up the quince and boiled them for about half an hour. Once softened I removed them to a preserving pot and added the sugar. You do need to keep stirring membrillo, and then be prepared to leave it sitting for several days, but the result is really worth it, you will have a truly fabulous preserve to eat alongside cheese and other savouries.
If you feel that membrillo may be too tricky, then a quince jam is really worth making too. I have put mine in small jars as last year I found it did not keep well once opened, a little mold can be so off putting!
I once again chopped up the fruit, (quince are quite hard, and chopping best describes cutting them up!) and softened it for half an hour. I then added the sugar. For the jam I used 1kg quince and 1kg sugar. The resulting jam is lovely, a gorgeous golden spread.
There is one more wonderful thing to make with quince – Ratafia. I love the fact that Ratafia was reputedly Jane Austen’s favourite drink, I can quite understand why, it has a delightful sweet flavour, without being too cloying, and I adore the dinky liqueur glasses!
You need to have a large jar to hand. Grate raw quince and put in the jar, add a good measure of sugar and top up with vodka or brandy. I wonder if the Austen’s used a vodka type spirit, as brandy must have been difficult to get hold of during the Napoleonic Wars?
Then leave, leave, leave. For a minimum of three months but longer will be fine. We are enjoying an occasional glass of last year’s Ratafia after dinner. It really is a perfect Autumnal drink!
All the best,