A cousin of both pears and apples, quince are a perfect fruit to balance all those hearty dead-of-winter foods. They have a golden, fuzzy exterior that’s so pretty that I think even Snow White would have been tempted to take a bite of one. If she had though, the story would have had a quick and boring conclusion. How? Unlike an eating apple, raw quince is hardly appetizing and are so solid that they’re difficult to bite.
Astringent, dense and mealy on its own, quince’s flavor blossoms wonderfully with a little prep. Poaching and roasting generally yield great results. The skin’s removed for some preparations (watch chef Peter Hoffman prep a quince above), however, if you’re making a jam or jelly, save it for the pectin.
Ripe golden quince smell tropical (like guava or pineapple). They will linger at the farmers market until the end of January, but canned or preserved fruits will last for months. Many of the recipes call for the quince to be processed into a paste or a jam, so consider these ideas to be good weekend project inspiration.
Hoffman actually wrote about quince for us a couple of years ago. Read his essay on what he considers to be a “quintessential fruit.”
- Chamomile panna cotta — Bon Appétit
Panna cotta is a go-to dessert of mine for a few reasons: it requires minimal effort, can be made days in advance, and is a blank slate of sorts for flavors as it is just sweet cream. The gentle floral notes of chamomile compliment quince nicely.
- Quince pancakes — Saveur
Pancakes and fruit equal an amazing breakfast. A nice deviation from classic strawberries mottled in sticky syrup. Whip up a quick mascarpone cream instead of plain whipped cream for a tangy finish.
- Quince in honey — Lucky Peach
Store these in jars and pull them out when guests come over to pair with a cheese plate. Brie, camembert, and roquefort compliment the fruit well.
- Quince and fig preserves — Bon Appétit
A smear of this on rye toast and a dollop of ricotta, and you’ve made the ultimate snack. Well, we think so anyway.
- Quince tart tartin — Food52
As quince bear resemblance to apple, it only makes sense that this classic French dessert be updated using quince. Sprinkle the finished product with cinnamon, and don’t be afraid to try out mini versions of this treat in small pie molds or even muffin tins.
- Monte Cristo sandwiches — Bon Appétit
Smoky, savory ham gets a sweet little upgrade. For a bigger flavor profile, smear on some stone ground mustard.
- Pear, apple and quince crostata — Epicurious
Ah, the lazy man’s pie, or, the ultimate ‘shoot, I forgot to make dessert’, dessert. Instead of topping with regular sugar, use demerara sugar- the larger crystals won’t really melt, so an extra layer of crispness is added.
- Popcorn granola bars — Food52
Sticky, sweet, cooked quince works as a binder for these snack bars. Also a great use for day-old popcorn (especially those gift tins of popcorn that relatives love to send).
- Spinach-stuffed quinces — Saveur
The Persians prove that quince doesn’t necessarily need to be used in a sweet capacity.Use vegetable stock instead of chicken for a veggie-friendly appetizer.