from one generation to the next
Quinces have made a serious comeback in Melbourne. Once scorned as impossibly hard and gritty, quinces are now commanding a high price at the local Farmers Markets as aficionados get what they can, for the quince season is very short and supply limited.
This ugly duckling fruit needs TLC and time to come to their full potential. My Mum used to stew quinces much as she would apples. How I loathed that gritty compote!!
It was not until I came across quince paste on a cheese platter many years later that I realized that there was a lot more to this ugly fruit. Making quince paste is a tedious task, a job I tackled once many years ago, only once! I discovered in the process though that with long slow cooking, quinces turn a deep ruby red and the flesh turns buttery in texture, all grittiness disappears.
A wedge of ruby red quince served with sharp cheese is sublime. Serve slow poached quince as a simple compote with thick natural yoghurt or bake the poached quince into a sponge topped pudding, upside down cake or crumble.
The unique heady perfume of quinces is unsurpassable. Grab them while you can!
Preheat the oven to 140C.
Make a syrup with the sugar, water and lemon juice in a large lidded cast iron casserole dish.
Wash the woolly down off the quinces.
Peel and core and trim the fruit and cut into eighths. Put the fruit into the syrup immediately to prevent it oxidizing.
Bring the syrup with the fruit in it to the boil, then cover the fruit tightly with a piece of baking paper to prevent the top surfaces drying out.
Immediately transfer the casserole dish to the oven and bake for 6 hours.
Check the level of the liquid from time to time and add boiling water if necessary. The fruit must remain submerged.
Allow the ruby red quince segments to cool in the the syrup.
Store in the fridge or freeze for later use.