You know what they say—don’t count your quinces before they ripen…okay, maybe they don’t say that, but they probably should.
I’m pleased to count the little quinces forming this year, though. I know we won’t get to eat all of them, but it’s the most fruit the little quince tree has ever set.
I can almost taste the quince paste now…
I had never encountered quince before coming to New Zealand. It’s an odd fruit. It’s sort of what I imagine pears must have been like before hundreds of years of plant breeding—astringent, hard, and gritty. They’re not a fruit you eat fresh.
But cook them, and all their glorious floral flavours come out. Turned into quince paste, they are one of my favourite foods.
Quince paste is delightfully versatile—pair it with cheese on a cracker for a salty snack or hors d’oeuvres, or spread it on toast for a sweet breakfast treat.
Making quince paste is a lesson in patience. First, you have to wait for the quinces to grow and ripen—they won’t be mature until autumn, and they’re not a fruit you find in the store, even in season. You just have to wait for them.
Then you have to simmer those rock-hard quinces for half an hour until they’re soft enough to mash.
Then you add sugar and cook oh-so-slowly for up to 3 hours, until the mixture turns red.
You pour the hot paste into jars and wait another few hours for it to set.
Finally, you can enjoy your quinces.
So, yeah, don’t count your quinces before they’re paste.