Quince, the bizarre autumn fruit favourite of the Romans.
So far I’ve had a very limited and rather horrible experience with quince and when my boyfriend brought four of them home, my first question was “why?” and my second question was “what the heck do I do with it?”. If you are wondering what quince is at this point, you’re probably not alone, so let’s clear that up first.
Quince is a rather ugly yellow autumnal fruit that looks a bit like a crossover between an apple and a pear and even comes with an unhealthy looking brown fuzz if picked under ripe. It is dubiously popular in the Balkans, Turkey and southeast Asia, because it’s one of the most difficult fruits out there. It’s tough and a bit woody in texture and extremely tart and sour if eaten raw, which is why I honestly can’t understand how anyone got the idea to try and cook it. However, if you do cook it in any way, it becomes a bit softer, much sweeter and ends up tasting a bit like a bland, slightly sour pear + it smells absolutely divine.
Some people swear by quince jam or quince jelly, which turns out so thick it’s called quince cheese in some countries and is also one of the only cheese types I don’t like. My previous experience with quince consisted of trying a very tough quince candy once that tasted horrible and an equally horrible quince jam, so I wasn’t super enthusiastic about cooking with quince. But anyway, I embraced the challenge and it actually turned out tasty enough to share, so here are 2 edible quince recipe ideas you can try if you ever get your hands on a quince:
Savoury quince recipe: Baked quince with potatoes, garlic and rosemary
- 4 quince fruits
- 6-8 potatoes
- 1 onion
- 12 cloves of garlic (or more)
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 sprigs of fresh rosemary (you can also use dry)
As a side dish for 3-4 people
Super simple! Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Wash the quince and either peel it, core it and chop it into large pieces or bake it whole. If you are planning to bake it whole, then make several deep slices across each quince like in my photos, so that it will bake faster and evenly. You can stuff some rosemary sprigs in it and salt it as well.
Next, wash the potatoes, peel the onions and chop both into large pieces to make sure that they will bake slowly and as long as the quince. Add the garlic cloves, but don’t peel them! Just separate them from each other and peel off the dry, white layers, but leave the last layer on the clove and bake them whole. The garlic will cook inside its peel and get all soft and mushy, so you can easily squeeze it out on your plate and enjoy a pure garlic spread on your potatoes. Personally, I think that’s the best way to bake garlic and you can try it with a whole head, just bake it in the oven for about an hour.
Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle some salt over everything, then add the fresh rosemary sprigs on top. If you’re using dry rosemary, just grind it between your fingers a bit and sprinkle it all over. Bake for at least 1.5 hour or better 2 at 180°C, until both the potatoes and the quince seem tender.
You can serve this as a side dish with chicken, beef, veal or pork steaks or whichever type of protein you choose, basically the same as you would serve with baked potatoes. I served mine with sauteed red cabbage, bean and peas tempeh and a salad.
Sweet quince recipe: Apple-quince mash with cookie crumbs and cream
- 100 grams (1 cup) of cookie crumbs
- 2 quince fruits
- 3 apples
- 2 tablespoons of sugar (more if you like really sweet)
- 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
- 250g (1 cup) of skuta (curd cheese), mascarpone or whipped cream
For 4 servings
Again, super simple! Peel, core and chop the quinces and apples into small pieces. Put them in a small pot with a bit of water and cook until they’re completely soft. Add the spices, sugar and cocoa, then boil until the water is almost gone. Turn off the heat and mash or blend the whole thing into a thick puree. You can eat it as it is if you want (we call apple mash čežana in Slovenia and it’s a dish in its own right), or you can continue with step 2.
Use a wide, shallow bowl and line the bottom with cookie crumbs (zero waste tip, you can grind old, stale cookies into crumbs in a blender and use them up). Pour your quince and apple mash onto the cookie crumbs, then top up with your chosen topping. I used skuta, the Slovenian curd cheese, but you could also use mascarpone or even whipped cream.
Let it sit for about 10 minutes for the fruit mash to soak into the cookie crumbs, then use a spoon to scoop it up into glasses or cups and enjoy!
This quince recipe is not meant to be a very solid dessert with a cookie crumb bottom, because I wanted to make it quick and easy. Also, you could prepare it in separately in each glass to make a pretty layered dessert in a glass, but for some reason I didn’t this time. 🙂
Now, how do you feel about quince? Did you know about its existence?