Skye Gyngell: Flash in the pan

Quince is a fragrant, underrated fruit, says Skye Gyngell. Cook it while you can: the golden season won't last.

I am always excited come early autumn when the first quince fruits appear on our gnarled little tree in the vegetable garden at Petersham. They begin to ripen in late September/early October, and have a beautiful, pale, limey-yellow complexion and the most wonderful fragrance - somewhere between ripe apples and pears yet somehow much more complex. A bowl full of quinces will perfume an entire room.

Quinces grow abundantly throughout Europe, most notably in Turkey and Morocco. Choose fragrant, organically grown quinces that have a clear, firm complexion and are without any bruises or discolouration. To prepare the fruit for cooking, simply rinse under cold water, dry with a towel, rubbing firmly to remove the fuzz. Do not bother to peel or core them as the colour and flavour is only improved by using them intact. Long, slow, gentle cooking transforms this pale fruit into the most beautifully burnt-coloured amber jewels.

Our little tree in the garden here is a bit unpredictable. This year, we only had 10 fruits, yet, two years ago, it was laden with them. So any more that we need, we buy from either Secretts farm in Surrey or Brogdale in Kent. Quinces' stay with us is short, they're not around for more than a couple of months, so enjoy them while they are around.

Skye Gyngell is head chef at Petersham Nurseries, Church Lane, off Petersham Road, Richmond, Surrey, tel: 020 8605 3627. Secretts tel: 01483 520 535; Brogdale Farm tel: 01795 535 286

Quince cordial

This drink came about, like so many things at Petersham, quite by accident. It is actually made of leftovers - it's the resulting syrup from whole roasted quinces. You need quite a high proportion of quinces in order to achieve this lovely colour. It is simply delicious. We serve it as an aperitif with prosecco (the quantity is 50/50). I love it just topped with fizzy water and a generous scoop of ice.

Makes 6 jugs

12 whole quinces
11/2pints/900ml water
350g/111/2oz caster sugar

First heat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas3. Wash and pat dry the quinces. Place in a baking tray and pour the water on top and sprinkle over the sugar.

Cover the tray loosely with aluminium foil and cook in the oven for around three hours. You will know it's ready when the quinces are tender and the cooking syrup is deep, pinky orange.

Take out of the oven, remove the cooked fruit and pour off the syrup into a jug or jar. Allow to cool completely before using. This will keep well in the fridge for at least a couple of weeks.

And the great thing about this recipe is that you are now left with the cooked fruit, which you can serve just as it is. It's particularly delicious for breakfast with thick, creamy Greek-style yoghurt and a drizzle or so of honey.

Roasted quince with verjuice

Serves 4

4 quinces (allow one per person)
250g/8oz sugar
2 fresh bay leaves
The peel of one unwaxed lemon
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthwise
120ml/4oz verjuice or water
1tbsp crème fraîche

Heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas2. Rinse and wipe the quinces clean. Quarter them lengthways but don't bother to remove the pith or core. Place the quarters (cut side up) in a baking tray, sprinkle over the sugar, the bay leaves, lemon peel and vanilla, and add the verjuice.

Cover lightly with foil and bake for two and a half hours, turning the fruit a couple of times during cooking. When the quince are soft, sticky and a beautiful burnt-orange colour they are ready.

I like to serve these still warm, with a large dollop of good-quality crème fraîche.

Quince sherbet

This is a really lovely icey sherbet to serve at this time of year. Strange as it may seem, we do serve ice-creams and sorbets at Petersham all year round - even in the (omega) depths of the coldest, bleakest winter. l think they can actually be very warming. We like to lace them with firey eau de vies - as their icey consistency warms your chest on the way down. In this one, however, alcohol is absent, thus allowing the quince's fragrant, flavoured, perfumey taste to come through.

Serves 4-8

3 large quince, rinsed and wiped clean
180g/6oz caster sugar
220ml/71/2fl oz water
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthwise
1tbsp rose syrup
2tbsp double cream

Split the quince in half lengthwise and then again into quarters, followed by eights. Place in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and then sprinkle over the caster sugar and pour in the water, finally adding the vanilla pod. Place over a medium heat and bring to a boil. Straight away, turn down the heat to its lowest setting and cook for around two-and-a-half hours, until the fruit is soft and deep orange in colour. The syrup should also be a wonderful, pinky-orange hue.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely. When cold, pass both the fruit and the syrup through a colander. Pour this, along with the rose syrup and cream, into an ice-cream maker and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Serve immediately.

A rough type of quince paste

Quince paste is made throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean. The one we make here at Petersham is actually similar to Spanish membrillo, which is a much smoother type of paste, but the version we're doing here is a little bit coarser. We serve it with cheese - I think firm, slightly sharp flavours work wonderfully with it, in particular, a tasty aged pecorino. Here, I have used (omega) stagionato con vinacce, but it also goes very well with Spanish manchego.

Serves 4-6

11/2kg/3lb firm-fleshed, ripe quinces
200ml/7fl oz cold water
400g/13oz caster sugar
Juice of one lemon

Wash the quinces thoroughly under cold, running water. Cut each one into quarters and then again into rough pieces about an inch thick. Place them all in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, large enough to hold all the ingredients.

Pour over the water and place over a low to medium heat and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down slightly and cover with a lid. Cook the quince, stirring occasionally until the fruit is soft - this should take approximately 45 minutes.

Once the fruit is soft, remove from the heat and purée very roughly in a Magimix or a blender. Return to the saucepan and add the sugar and the lemon juice and cook over a very low heat, stirring fairly constantly, for around 30 minutes.

The mixture will cook into a beautiful, deep-orange paste. When it is done, it should be quite thick, not runny, yet still quite pourable. Place in a container and allow to cool completely before putting it into the refrigerator. Serve with a strong cheese and some grapes.

News
i100
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
Arts and Entertainment
James Dean on the set of 'Rebel without a Cause', 1955
photographyHe brought documentary photojournalism to Tinseltown, and in doing so, changed the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Latest stories from 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

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

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

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

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    9 best steam generator irons

    9 best steam generator irons

    To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing