Saturday, 26 April 2014

Quince Harvest

Our quince tree has been most bountiful this year- at least eighty big quinces. The tree is a year round source of pleasure, I love the starkness of the pruned and bare branches in Winter, then  the beautiuful white flowers and new leaves in Spring, Summer sees all the quinces grow and in Autumn the developed fruit colours to lovely greenish yellow colour.

This is the time to pick for making quince paste and jelly as the pectin content is highest, once they get too yellow the pectin content diminishes and getting a good gel more difficult.

Once picked, they need to be processed. Mostly, I slow roast them with some sugar and orange juice until they turn a deep pink colour. The quinces are then packed into plastic containers and frozen to have with our breakfast oats and for desserts like quince and rhubarb crumble. Save the syrup, freeze it in small containers and use it in some meat dishes and as a sauce for cakes.

Slow Roasted Quinces
Peel and core quinces and place into ovenproof dish or stainless steel baking tray.

Cover with a syrup made by combining 1 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup sugar - you may need to make a double or triple quantity of the syrup.

Cover with foil and bake at 120 -140 deg C until pink - this will take a couple of hours. Allow to cool slightly, pack into containers and freeze.

The slow roasted quince with quince custard, cream and pistachios.

After processing most of them for the freezer, I decided to make quince paste, this is very good with cheese. It is time consuming but simple to make and if made correctly will last for years. I used eight very large quinces and ended up with two kg of puree. I made a variety of container sizes, the big blocks for me and the small containers as gifts for my 'cheese lover' friends.

Quince Paste

Peel quinces and quarter, discard skin.

Core and keep cores aside.

Cut quinces into chunks, put into large saucepan, cover with water and cook until soft. Approx 30 minutes. Strain quinces and then puree.

Optional - Cook cores and seeds together in another saucepan. The cores and seeds contain lots of pectin which assists with getting a good gel.

Cook until really soft and mushy and very little liquid is left.

Squash the cooked core mixture through a sieve and add to pureed quinces. Discard seeds in the sieve.

Weigh the total wieght of the quince puree. For each kilogram of puree use 750 g of sugar and the juice of 1 lemon.

Put quince paste, sugar and lemon juice in a large saucepan, preferably with a heavy base as it will take a couple of hours to cook.

Cook on low heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Allow mixture to simmer, stirring every few minutes to prevent it from sticking.

Over time it will change colour, become thicker as the moisture evaporates, allow two hours for this.

It is ready when the mixture has become really thick and it is difficult to stir and it is spluttering. It will also be a deep pink colour.

Allow to cool slightly and pack into clean and oiled containers. Cover with kitchen paper and store in airtight containers or use the plastic lids in the pantry. Do not refrigerate.

 Not wanting to waste any time whilst waiting for the paste to cook I made a gluten free Quince and Almond cake. It is a very moist cake that keeps well for a week in the fridge and makes a great dessert if warmed in the microwave.

Quince and Almond Cake

1 1/2 cups quince puree (could use apple or pear)
5 eggs
200g sugar
100g gluten free flour
200g almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder.

Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. I use the food processor.

Place into a greased and lined tray or cake tin. I use a deep slice tin.

Arrange quince (pear or apple) slices on top.

Bake at 160 deg C until golden brown and cake feels firm. Brush with a little of the quince syrup and allow to cool in tin. Refrigerate if not eaten when baked.

Serve warm with a little quince syrup (retained from the slow roasted quinces), cream or icecream

1 comment:

  1. Quince are so expensive here but I am inspired to try a batch of membrillo again after reading this; cooking core separately for more pectin is a good idea, what about including the washed skins too? That cake looks sooo good :)