The Wisdom of the Quince

Quinces are humbling. One of those old school fruits that remind me, that in a skirmish with Time, I shall never win.

I start out insanely desperate to cook with them. They’re in season for such a short Time. It has to be now. I scurry high and low, clamoring across the urban landscape to find ones that are just right; good size, nice peachy fuzz on the skin, good colour, but not too perfect. I want to do this quickly, I have many things on, but I invariably hop from fruit stall to fancy produce shop to over-priced department stall, not quite finding the ones I’m after. Time=1. Me=0.

Then I find them - or I compromise - and they sit regally in a glass fruit bowl or pretty oval platter and gleam smugly. For days.

They’re gnarly old bats to peel and chop so I have to wait for just the right moment. When I have Time. This is somehow trickier than it seems and I think of Time quietly smirking at the irony of my desperation to find the fruit that now veers quickly towards becoming a mound of mould in my fruit bowl. Time=2. Me=0

I scoop them up just before they’ve gone too far and plant them on my chopping board. They need to be peeled and chopped. But they’re tough and a bit slimy and my knife always seems to need sharpening but I never have Time to tend to it. They slip and slide across the wooden board and this whole farcical routine just takes up so much Time. Time=3. Me=0.

They’re in the pot, on low. They simmer and bubble and spit little puffs of perfume into the air. I make a cup of tea and stare out the window. I inhale deeply. After four hours…no, not four, they need a little more Time. Time=4. Me=0

After some Time, they are done. Only then, when I have relinquished my battle and declared Time the victor I remove the ruby red fleshy fillets and wonder at the way Time has enabled them to morph into something so luscious, so unctuous.

The perfect slow food mascot, I feel sure that quince would also be the fruit of choice for Buddha, Confucius and Kenny Rogers. There’s a lot of wisdom in those knobbly, arthritic ‘pears’.

Slow Cooked Poached Quince
Great with cheese, roasts, in a crumble or with a tagine. That's if you don't just fish them straight out of the pot and pop them in your mouth.
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  1. 1.2kg Quince
  2. 1/2 Cup Cider Vinegar
  3. 3 Cups Sugar
  4. 3 Cups water
  5. 15 cloves
  6. 3 cinnamon quills
  7. 20 cardamom pods (slightly crushed)
  8. 1 tsp coriander seeds
  9. 2 whole dried chillies (rehydrated)
  10. 1TBS Black peppercorns
  11. 1 Lemon. Rind only.
  1. 1. Peel, chop, throw in heavy bottomed pot.
  2. 2. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and pop the pan on a simmer mat.
  3. 3. Gently simmer for about four hours until they are a very ruby red colour. Don't get scared and take them off too early. Indulge Time and they’ll be more like a ruby and less like a rose.
London From Scratch

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