Do you know the color changing fruit? Quince looks like pears but have such a delectable aroma when cooked, there is likeness. Join us as we cook this amazing treat.
Get to Know Quince
Paris (the fella from Troy, not the city or the celebutante) gave Helen of Sparta (later, Helen of Troy) a “golden apple.” Actually, scholars believe this to be a quince. The apple referenced in the Song of Solomon and the Garden of Eden? Those same studious folks believe the mentioned fruit to be quince, and not apple. Hmm…
A bit of caution: do not make your first experience eating raw quince. There is a variety that has been created to be eaten raw, but what is normally available is hard, sour, and you’ll never want another again. If you know how to prepare it, however, you’ll want quince every year!
Fun fact: this fruit turns from colorless, to pink, and then to a deep red (see note below). It also smells amazing while it is simmering, so it’s perfect to have cooking if you have friends over. They’ll think you’re a culinary genius!
How to Choose Quince
No matter the variety, quince should be firm and smell very fruity (also a bit of a floral smell). The skin should be a bright yellow – if you find some that are a bit green, snatch ’em up and ripen them on your counter.
Why take my word for the loveliness of quince; why not just try whipping up a big ‘ol batch? Well, who wants to buy a boat load of something just to find out they don’t like it? Not me, so I altered altered my preparation down to just a single fruit! That way, you can either conduct an experiment with the kids or you can just try it to see if you like it!
Quince Recipe (How to Cook Quince)
Prepare by peeling, cutting, and coring the fruit – just slice into 1/8ths. Don’t mince the quince, people. It will break down to a soft texture but it looks great when it’s presented in slices.
- 1 large quince, peeled, cut, and cored
- 1.5 cup water
- 1/8 cup to a 1/4 cup granulated sugar (or date syrup)
- 1/8 tsp vanilla (or a portion of a vanilla bean)
- 1/2 tsp honey
- lemon juice (optional, see note below)
Bring to a boil, add quince, and loosely cover. You can use a parchment paper ‘lid’ – cut a piece of parchment to fit the inside of your pot and place it directly on top of the cooking quince mixture.
Simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour for it to be soft and sweet, but there are definitely benefits to cooking longer. The longer you cook quince, the more pink or red it gets! The heat is releasing the pigments from the broken tannins – this causes the flesh to turn color. Wow your kids with this one, folks.
Kids in the Kitchen: A Quince Experiment
Get the kid’s in the kitchen and have some fun with quince. Basically, the heat allows the tannins in the flesh to separate, allowing the color compounds to come out. You could do your own experiment: with lemon juice and without lemon juice and talk about stability! If you have a picky eater, you might want to try this food experiment with your little ones. Not only is color changing fruit pretty cool, quince is so very delicious with only a small amount of effort.
Note: Now, for the bit about lemon juice… I have never added it but Kitchen Chemology notes that in order for quince to turn a deep ruby red, one should add it at the beginning stages of cooking because it increases the acidity. Increased acidity allows the color compounds (which have been broken apart by heating the tannins) to stabilize. If you’re making a holiday dinner that could use a deep red accent, it would be so much fun to make it very dark.
How to Serve Quince
Oatmeal: Because this is a fruit readily available in winter, this makes a great addition to morning breakfasts on chilly mornings. We serve it on freshly prepared oatmeal and it goes fast! If you’re into grits, quince definitely sweetens them up nicely, too.
Applesauce: Another way we love, love, love our cooked quince is to include it in some homemade applesauce. It has really brightened the flavor without overpowering any other ingredient.
Dessert: Warmed quince over vanilla ice cream is a not only amazing but makes for a beautiful presentation. If you’re having people over, wow them with quince! The simple sweet of the vanilla, combined with the rich quince, is one of my favorite desserts. Ever!
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