Nov 27 2014
L absolutely loved a dessert that I made last year, only I had no recollection of how I made it. So, this year, I went about re-creating a Quince Compote that would come close to the “food of the Gods” that I made last year.
Quince are a seasonal fruit that I’ve never seen at the supermarket and rarely see at the farmers market. At home, we have ornamental quince that has a beautiful coral colored flower which blooms on thorny branches in the late winter and early spring here. Our bushes actually get little fragrant fruit, but I’ve never cooked them. Last year, S and I were at a hotel that had beautiful fruit trees all around – mostly, from what I recall, figs, pomegranate and quince. Shortly after I saw the big quince trees, a local fruit market carried the actual fruit and I took the opportunity to try and make it.
Quince is not a fruit you eat straight off the tree. It is very, very hard and astringent/tart. It takes a bit of time to peel, cut, core and slice. A labor of love, for sure. But it is definitely worth it for the lovely, fragrant pink deliciousness that quince becomes when it is cooked.
Below is a re-creation, for posterity, of the compote that L insisted that I should remember. L and I eat it plain. I also eat it with yogurt and granola for a delicious breakfast. J had a friend sleep over last night and she ate some on her waffles this morning. I’m thinking it would be good with turkey on Thanksgiving.
4 quince (large-ish size)
4 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 lemon, cut into two pieces
1 star anise pod (or the equivalent amount in little pieces if yours has fallen apart like mine)
4 cloves (or more if yours are small, like mine)
1/2 vanilla bean pod, sliced open, lengthwise (optional)
1/2 cup sugar (more to taste)
1/4 cup honey (more to taste)
Note: I do not make my compote overly sweet. The quince retains some of its tartness. If you like yours sweeter, add more sugar/honey.
Peel the quince (a vegetable peeler is easiest), then cut into quarters and then cut each quarter in half, lengthwise. Slice off the hard core from each eighth piece and then cut it in half, again, lengthwise. You should get 16 slices from each quince. Note that the core is very hard and gritty – it is essential to cut it out. Put the quince and all the other ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover. Cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the quince is pink and soft. Remove spices. Cool and put into a container in the fridge, and/or freeze some for later use.
The spices are to taste – if you don’t like a particular one, you can omit it. Note, also, if you want to make it easier to remove the spices, tie them into a square of cheesecloth, like a bouquet garni. This would be a good idea, especially for the cloves. Wish I’d done that.