Having been given some quinces last week and enjoyed their decorative value in the fruitbasket, time came to make them into something useful, pretty and edible.
People say that for the Greeks and Romans, quinces were the golden apples of Hesperides, the golden apples that prevented Atalanta winning the race. The quince was the golden apple that Paris awarded Aphrodite- which is very suitable as it was after all her fruit. The fruit of love, marriage and fertility. This is the scent in spring of the beginning of love. There are more references to quinces and love such as in the poem written by Shafer ben Utman al -Mustafi in 982.
It is yellow in colour, as if it wore a daffodil
tunic, and it smells like musk, a penetrating smell.
It has perfume of a loved woman and the same
hardness of heart, but it has the colour of the
impassioned and scrawny lover.
And you can imagine the quince being the fruit in the story of the three golden apples.
Its a fruit with history, myth and its colour and perfume delight if you can see past the hard and unattractive shell.
There are very few recipes about what to do with quinces in english recipes but I imagine there may be quite some recipes in Persian and mediteranean cuisine. I have started with making quince jelly and delighted at the salmon pale colour of the flesh and the rich clear liquid that boiled up made an exquisite jelly. If you have access to a lot of quinces you could make membrilo and quince paste which goes well with cheese. Its a long stir and watching over the pot to ensure that it does not burn in the bottom of the pan but makes an excellent Christmas present in a pretty box.