The last word on quinces

All the jars from last week’s quince marathon have been labeled and put away, and the sticky kitchen floor and stovetop have been cleaned. And, except for the quince chutney, which needs to mature for two months, everything quince tasted good so far.

The last poached quinces went into two quince crisps today, one for us and one for my parents-in-law in Connecticut. Crisp travels well in a cooler, it can be reheated and even frozen. Nobody around me can escape quince these days!

Quince Crisp

I made the crisp with 1¾ pounds poached quince chunks. If unlike me you have quinces with little waste, 2 to 2½ pounds raw quinces should yield about that amount. There is no need to be precise – a little more or less won’t matter. The quinces can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for a few days. The crisp topping is based on the all-purpose crisp topping from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone but I reduced the brown sugar in the topping and added a generous amount to the quinces, as these tart fruits really need it.

3 organic lemons

2 to 2½ pounds quinces

1 stick cinnamon

½ cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Crisp topping:

6 tablespoons cold butter

2/3 cup flour

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cup rolled oats

Pinch of salt

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1. Wash the lemons under cold running water and rub them dry with a paper towel.

2. Peel two of the lemons with a vegetable peeler and juice them. Put the lemon peel and the lemon juice in a large pot with water.

3. Peel and core the quinces. Cut into bite-size chunks and immerse them immediately in the prepared lemon water. Add the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the quinces can be pierced with a knife. Cool in the cooking liquid.

4. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

5. Drain the quinces and remove the lemon peel and cinnamon stick.

6. Zest and juice the remaining lemon. Chop the zest very finely. Mix the zest, lemon juice, quinces, sugar and cinnamon with the drained quince chunks. Place the mix in an ovenproof dish and distribute evenly with a spatula.

7. For the topping, cut the butter into small dice. Add all other ingredients and quickly crumble with your fingertips to a pebbly consistency. Distribute evenly over the quinces. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour until bubbly and lightly browned on top.

Makes 6 servings

Quince Chutney

This recipe is based on the Pumpkin and Quince Chutney from the fabulous River Cottage Preserves Handbook by Pam Corbin, but I made a couple of changes.

I could not warm up to adding horseradish, so I substituted freshly grated gingerroot, as it goes well with pumpkin, quince, apples, and raisins.

Also, after I was done with all the chopping it was so late that I had to postpone the cooking to the next morning. I mixed all of the ingredients and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, which I have done with other chutneys. It usually intensifies the flavor.

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

12 whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half

2½ pounds peeled and deseeded pumpkin

2½ pounds peeled and cored quince

1½ pounds peeled and cored tart apples

1½ pounds peeled and trimmed red onions

3 cups raisins

2½ cups light brown sugar

2½ cups apple cider vinegar

½ teaspoon

1 teaspoon chili flakes, more to taste

2 ounces freshly grated gingerroot

1. Bundle the peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon in a piece of cheesecloth and tie securely with a butcher twine.

2. Evenly chop the pumpkin, quince, apples and onions. Place the raisins in a heatproof bowl and pour hot water over them. Drain well.

3. Mix all of the ingredients in a large non-corrosive container (plastic or glass, no metal) with a lid and refrigerate overnight.

4. The next day, slowly bring the mix to a boil. Reduced the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for 3 hours, until the liquid is thick and syrupy.

5. Remove the spice bag. Fill the chutney in sterilized jars through a canning funnel. Wipe the rims with a damp piece of paper towel to remove any drips and wipe dry with paper towel. Place the lids and the bands on the jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

6. Let cool and set for 24 hours without moving the jars.

Makes six to seven 1-pint jars 

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