Quince charming: Mark Hix celebrates this under-appreciated fruit

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

We don't really grow quince in this country on a commercial scale, so it's always nice to get a call from friends who have quince trees and want to see the fruit go to a good home.

The quince is rather an odd relative of the pear and most of the world's produce is grown in Turkey, which is why you will often see the first quince of the season in Turkish shops.

However, like the fig, there are many quince trees that have been introduced around the UK over the years, and judging by the amount of produce I've received from my friends, they seem to have pretty healthy crops.

Quince and cinnamon tart

Serves 4

Use good-quality butter puff pastry for these tarts – either homemade or ready rolled.

4 quinces, peeled, quartered, with the core cut out
150g sugar
1 stick of cinnamon
Juice of 1 lemon
150-200g puff pastry, rolled to about
one-third of a cm thick

Put the quinces in a saucepan with the sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice. Cover well with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until they are soft and tender. You may need to top up the water during cooking.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5. Drain the quinces over a bowl into a colander, then return the liquid to a pan and simmer until it's reduced to a syrupy consistency and thickened. Break up the cinnamon sticks into pieces and add to the syrup.

Slice the quinces, leaving them more or less in the shape of the fruit, then cut the pastry into roughly the shape of the quince, allowing about 1cm of pastry all the way around. Place the pastry on a baking tray and carefully lay the quince on top. Brush the quince with a little syrup and bake for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is coloured around the edges and cooked. To serve, transfer to warmed serving plates and spoon more syrup on top. Serve with thick cream or ice-cream.

Wild duck and quince salad

Serves 4

Cook the quince in the same way as for the tart recipe above; you could add cloves or even peppercorns to add a savoury kick.

1 wild duck
A couple of knobs of butter, softened
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 quinces, cooked as for the tart recipe
A couple of handfuls of small tasty salad leaves

For the dressing

1tbsp good quality red wine vinegar
1tsp Dijon mustard
2tbsp vegetable or corn oil
2tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Season the duck and rub the breasts with the butter. Roast for 20-30 minutes, keeping the breasts nice and pink, then remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, halve and slice the quinces. Whisk all of the ingredients together for the dressing and season.

Remove the legs from the duck, remove all of the meat and shred it. Remove the breasts and cut each into 8 slices.

To serve, toss the leaves, quince and shredded leg meat with the dressing and lightly season and arrange on cold serving plates, then arrange the sliced breast on top.

Honey roast bacon with quince

Serves 4

A joint of bacon makes a great cold cut as a starter, especially with a fruit like quince.

A 1kg piece of back bacon, rind removed
2-3tbsp clear honey
10-12 cloves
2 quinces cooked as in the recipe above

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 5. Score the fat of the bacon; insert the cloves. Line a roasting dish with foil, place the bacon on the foil; spoon the honey over. Roast in the oven for about an hour, basting every so often and adding a little water if the honey is burning. Remove from the oven; cool. Halve the quinces, cut into slices and shred the slices into strips. Slice the bacon on serving plates; arrange the quince on top.

Quince Prince

Makes a litre of quince gin

I named this cocktail after the Princes – as in the food writer Rose and her husband Dominic who brought me some fruit. This infusion lasts well and can be used for all sorts of drinks. I've used the poaching liquor from the cooked quinces in the recipes above as the sweetener here.

500g quinces, coarsely grated
1ltr gin
25g sugar

Mix the quince, gin and sugar together; store in an airtight container for 3-4 weeks. Strain through a fine sieve and store in airtight bottles until required. To make the cocktail for two, use 150ml of the quince gin mixed with 150ml quince cooking liquor, the juice of 1 lemon and an egg white. Shake this in a cocktail shaker with ice; pour into suitable serving glasses.

Suggested Topics
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
    Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

    Take a good look while you can

    How climate change could wipe out this seal
    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

    Farewell, my lovely

    Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
    Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

    Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

    Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

    Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

    John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

    A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
    Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

    Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

    The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
    The 10 best pedicure products

    Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

    Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

    Commonwealth Games 2014

    Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
    Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

    Jack Pitt-Brooke

    Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
    How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

    Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game