My cousin Eliza has a quince tree in her back yard, full of fruit. Problem is, she's living up in Washington right now, and renting her house to some lovely people with no interest in quince. I'd never cooked with quince before... but there's no better time to start than now! The quince is a very interesting fruit. It ranges from an apple-size to grapefruit-size. It has a slick, firm skin covered in fuzz. It can't be eaten raw - the pale yellow flesh is hard and bitter when raw. But when cooked, it develops a complex taste and a gorgeous pink hue.
My friend JJTWH recommended Deborah Madison's "Local Flavors" book as a good resource for quince recipes. In fact, she has many interesting recipes and a host of interesting quince factoids (all of which I've repeated in this post, as though I were an expert). First, I made a batch of "Poached Quince in Syrup" - which you see in the jar behind my galette. They were spiced with whole cloves, cinnamon stick, and orange peel. Mmmm. Lovely color, and lovely complex flavor. These poached quince, once preserved, will keep for 2 months in the fridge.
Last night I made the "Apple, Pear, Quince Galette" from the same book. We had a little dessert festivity at my grandpa's house last night, wishing my mom safe travels as she sets off for a week in Japan. This galette was lovely and delicious, full of autumn flavors. I'd definitely make it again. As promised, the poached quince gave a little extra zing of unexpected, but harmonious, flavor to an otherwise straightforward apple-pear dessert.
Next up, as my large quince collection continues to ripen, I plan on making quince butter (like apple butter) and quince jelly. Luckily for me, quince is apparently one of the longest lasting fruits. Also, it has a lovely aroma, and people used to put quince in their clothing closets as a fragrance. So for now, I have platters of quince in my living room - looking and smelling very sophisticated... in stark contrast to the piles of magazines and torn up dog toys that take up the rest of the room.