During late summer and early fall, April and May (my favourite time in Franschhoek!) the quinces are in season in the Cape Winelands of South Africa. A quince is a fruit (obviously) and family of the apple, pear + and other stone and pome fruits. Raw it’s impossible to eat them: they are very hard, difficult even to cut. But once you cooked them and added some warm, ‘Christmas’ spices, they are delicious! I made this purée ( jam, marmalade, whatever you want to call it) from the quinces I got from a friend’s garden, and used lots of spices like cloves, cinnamon, star anise and vanilla to add the warm, delicious taste. It’s perfect to add a spoonful to your morning yoghurt and muesli (find here my healthy homemade granola recipe) or for dessert with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. You can also have it as a sauce with gamey meat, such as springbok and venison. Next year when the quinces are in season again, I’ll try to make Quince jelly for a change! I like that too, together with hard cheese (like French Comté or South African award-winning Dalewood Huguenot)…. But that is something for next year! Today I share the quince purée recipe with you.
for about 8 jam jars of purée
16 big quinces
for the cooking:
1 lemon, juice only
2 star anises
1 cinnamon pod
1 vanilla pod, cut open so seeds can infuse
for the purée:
6 kardemom pods (dark seeds inside)
2 star anises
8 tablespoons of icing sugar (or less, if the quinces are sweet)
4-5 tablespoons of cinnamon powder
1-2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
Rinse and wash the outside of the quinces, remove some ‘down’ if necessary, but leave peel on. The peel contains lots of pectin. Cut the quinces in 4 pieces, including pits and core (=even more pectin) and put these all together in a big pan with water and the juice of 1 lemon. Also add star anises, cloves, a cinnamon pod and vanilla pod (halved – so the seeds can ‘swim’). Cook the quinces on low temperature (simmer) for about 1-2 hours, depending on how hard and big the pome fruits are. You can take the quinces off the fire when they almost fall apart, and when soft enough to cut with the tip of a sharp knife. Allow the quinces to cool for a few hours in the infused water. Take the fruits out of the water, dry with a kitchen towel and peel off the skin carefully. You can do this just with your hands, and don’t need a knife for that. The flesh just under the skin does contain the most pectin and therefore you don’t want to cut too much away. Remove the core and pits now, for this it is easier to use a knife.
Ground your dry ingredients (kardemom, cloves, star anises) in a strong blender or kitchen machine. Also add cinnamon powder and vanilla essence (or the seeds of a vanilla pod if you prefer).
Place all the pulp in the blender too and mix for 10-30 seconds or until happy with result. Taste and find out how much sugar your purée needs. Sometimes the quinces are already sweet and you’ll need two tablespoons, but sometimes they are quite sour and you’ll need to add a bit more. Mix again in the blender, taste again, and add spices or sugar to taste.
If you are happy with the result, fill sterilised jam jars with it. Depending on sugar level you can conserve the purée for about 1-3 months.
Delicious in morning yoghurt, with ice cream, or just as a ‘fruity sauce’ for lamb, venison, springbok….
Cooking the quinces with vanilla, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and lemon.
Quince purée is delicious in your morning yoghurt. Or with ice cream and crumbled cookies. As a sauce with game meat..