You might mistakenly think that these pear-like fruits are going mouldy, as Quince are covered in a bizarre greyish fluff whilst growing. Quince turn from dark green to a light green and eventually they are ripe for picking when they are a golden yellow and some of their fluff has fallen off. The Quince tree also has a beautiful pink blossom and makes the most delicious Quince Jam, or seen as we are living in Portugal, a sumptuously rich Portuguese Quince Marmelada.
If you dare to bite into a Quince picked from the tree, you would be in for an unpleasant surprise; as although the fruit resembles a pear or apple they are absolutely revolting eaten raw and should always be cooked before you can savour the quince’s fruity and delicious mellow flavour.
Historically, Henry VIII received a gift of a box of marmalade, which was likely Marmelada, a traditional quince paste from Portugal. The word Quince translates to Marmelo in Portuguese, Marmelada is simply made from equal amounts of Quince and sugar cooked down to form a dense block, so thick it can be cut into cubes or slices and is often served with cheese.
When you peel these bobbly and voluptuous fruits, quarter and remove the pips, chop the quarters into chunks, you can then boil them down until they resemble apple sauce. The peeling and coring process is rather labour intense, you feel like you are left with only a quarter of the edible fruit after cleaning. The boiling process also definitely takes far longer than apples or pears, as quince are stubbornly hard…all this aside… but preparing Marmelada is well worth the time and effort.
To Prepare Quince Marmelada:
The method is suitable for any quantity of quince as you simply add an equal quantity of sugar to cooked quince.
- Wash, peel and core the quince. Cut into chunks. Add just enough water to ensure the quince is covered and boil until soft and tender
- After boiling the quince and it’s liquor can then be weighed. Make a note of the weight, return to the pan.
- Weigh an equal amount of sugar and add to the quince and liquor. Return to the heat and bring to a slow boil. Cook slowly and stir frequently to avoid the quince jam sticking…cooked slowly the sauce thickens and magically slowly changes colour to from pale orange to a deep ruby red and it gives off a fantastic aroma.
We have made chunky and smooth versions, pale orange and deep red and both are fragrant, delicious and a very, very decadent treat. We have enough jars of marmelada to add a spoonful of this sweet jam to our hot porridge, to centrally heat our bodies during the encroaching winter mornings. However, forget porridge if you really want to complement the flavour of the quince, Marmelada is at it’s best when sampled with cheese, any cheese…simply delicious.
Quince can also be pickled, poached and roasted, a wonderful accompaniment to a sunday dinner or dessert.
How do you like your Quince?