Did you know that some historians believe that the apple, from the biblical story of Adam and Eve, might have actually been a Quince? Did you even know what a quince was?
I had limited exposure to the fruit until today, having only been served a quince jam with some manchego cheese at a fancy tapas bar in Philadelphia. I remember it having a unique, but pleasant taste. I certainly didn’t know what it looked like in it’s natural state, which got me into a funny situation today.
The quince, as you can see in the photo above, resembles a pear. When I got the CSA on Saturday, that’s what I assumed the green fruit was. I packed it in my lunch today, and around 4:30 took it out as a late afternoon snack. One bite told me something wasn’t quite right. At first I thought it was not ripe, as it was extremely hard and bitter. After another bite on the other side, I went to find Kim.
“I think you need to cook it,” she told me, taking one look at the hard fruit and the look of disgust on my face. I coaxed her and another colleague into sampling a small piece, but no one could identify the taste – a mix of sour pear/pineapple/sour apple. It was certainly not something we were accustomed to.
I finally decided to email the farm, and within minutes I got back a reply:
“John -It is a quince!!! and not to eat!! but to make jams with!”
On my walk home, I sheepishly Googled “Raw Quince Stomach Ache” from my phone and held my breath as the page loaded. It turns out it’s OK to eat, it just doesn’t taste very good.
I saved the rest of the quince after our taste test, and decided to follow our farmer’s advice and make jam. It was really easy, and the final product was much better than the raw stuff.
- 1 quince
- 5 teaspoons sugar (or to taste)
- 1/4 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- Peel quince and cut into chunks.
- Place fruit in a small sauce pot. Add sugar, and fill with water just until the water reaches the top of the fruit.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
- Cook until fruit becomes soft and the mixture resembles applesauce.
- Remove from heat and cool.
- Stir in vanilla and cardamom, if desired.
The resulting jam was delicious. A nice texture and familiar taste with exotic, lingering undertones. I didn’t add the vanilla or cardamom, because I wanted to taste the essence of the fruit, but it made quite a bit so I may add it to half of the batch.