It’s an apple! It’s a pear! It’s superquince!

30 November 2022

Looking like something between an apple and a pear, the quince comes across as an exotic addition to the fruit basket. However, this hard, astringent fruit, that needs to be cooked before eating, has a long history in Europe. It was already well-known in Ancient Rome having arrived from its home in Central Asia.

When cooked, quince turns from a yellow hue to a deep amber colour. In Spain, quince is the base for ‘Membrillo‘, a sweet jelly that is served with Manchego cheese. In Turkey, which accounts for more than a quarter of the world’s quince crop, it can often be found stewed in syrup as part of a classic Turkish breakfast spread alongside cheese and olives or baked in the oven and served with clotted cream. It’s also popular in Uzbekistan – we once had a plov garnshed with quince slices and cashews.

Plov with quince and cashew

Quince has quite a short season, so we decided to turn our haul into a spicy, amber-coloured chutney to prolong its shelf life. Chutney is a lot more forgiving to prepare than jam – and this one is perfect be served with crackers spread with hummus or with a selection of robust cheeses.

Ingredients (makes around 500 g of chutney)

  • 500 g quince (peeled, cored and cut into 1 cm cubes)
  • 125 g red onion (roughly chopped)
  • 100 g brown sugar
  • 50 g sultanas
  • 10 g fresh ginger (grated)
  • One teaspoon paprika
  • One cinnamon stick
  • 250 ml apple (cider) vinegar

Method

  • Put all the ingredients in a heavy-based pan. Bring to Bring to the boil and then simmer over a low heat, stirring regularly, for at least one and a half hours – it should thicken up into an amber-coloured mass.
  • Allow the chutney to cool and then put into sterilised glass jars (leave the jars in an oven heated to 50 c for 30 minutes prior to filling). Leave in a dark, cool, dry place for at least four weeks. Should keep for up to a year in the cupboard.

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