Quince are not usually raised commercially, so you won’t find many picture-perfect specimens. Expect a few bruises and scrapes, but avoid fruits with soft, dark spots. Like pears, quince ripen from the inside out, so later in the season, you might find fruit that’s past its prime when you cut them open. I look for firm quince and lift them to my nose; if they have a nice fragrance, there’s a good chance they’re good candidates for poaching.
Some recipes advise soaking the peeled quince slices in lemon-tinged water to avoid browning. I’ve never done that, but instead, I simply slip them into the warm poaching liquid and any trace of discoloration soon disappears. Of course, this recipe can be halved, or increased.
- 7 cups (1.75l) water
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 1/2 cup (150g) honey
- 1 lemon (preferably unsprayed), cut in half
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 6 large, or 8 medium, quince
1. Mix the water, sugar, honey, lemon and vanilla bean in a large non-reactive pot and turn it on to medium-to-high heat. You can add any additional spices or seasonings, as indicated above, if you wish.
2. While the liquid is heating, quarter, peel, and remove the cores of the quince. Make sure to removed anything tough for fibrous, being very careful with the knife.
3. As you peel and prepare the quince quarters, slip each one into the simmering liquid. Once they’re all done, cover the pot with a round of parchment paper with a walnut-sized hole cut in the center and place it on top.
4. Simmer the quince (do not boil) for at least an hour, until the quince are cooked through.
Cooking time will vary, depending on the quince. They’re done when they are cooked through, which you can verify by piercing one with the tip of a sharp paring knife. It’s not unusual for them to take up to 2 hours, or more.
Serve warm, or at room temperature. To store, pour the quince and their liquid into a storage container and refrigerate for up to one week.