Thursday, September 23, 2010

It's Not a Quince-cidence

Quince are very firm, bright yellow fruit that you have probably seen in your supermarket. They are related to apples and pears and it is even believed that the apple, in the story of Adam and Eve, was actually a quince. (Somehow, referring to a man's "Adam's Quince" doesn't feel right.)

Most quince are extremely hard and have a sour/astringent flavour, not lending well to eating raw.  However, I have found that if they are cut thinly and small, they make a great addition to fruit salad.

Quince are quite frost resistant and will remain fresh and usable in your refrigerator for weeks.

You may find quince in a preserved form, usually in syrup. Through my experience, the fruit in this form is flavourful, but is not very appealing in its consistency or appearance.

The Solution: Easy Quince Preserve
Often, the problem with making preserves is that you have to make a massive amount, which takes a great deal of your time and tests your patience. Follow the directions below to make a delicious jar of homemade quince preserve. (That's right, only one jar!)

- Begin with peeling 3 quince
- Shred the the fruit, using a cheese grater or similar appliance, directly into a small sized pot
- Add one 100 mL container of PC Unsweetened “Just Apples” (By the way, I love this product. It contains no artificial flavours or colors and an organic variety is also available.)
- Add the following ingredients:
       - vanilla sugar* (as much as is required, depending on the sweetness
         of the fruit and your taste)
       - honey (same as previous comment above)
       - water (you may need to add water, throughout the process, if the mixture
         thickens too much for your liking or if the fruit requires more cooking)
       - 3 rounded teaspoons of fruit pectin
       - a dash of ground cinnamon

* If you don't want to use vanilla sugar, use regular white sugar and add a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  I would suggest not using vanilla essence (artificial vanilla flavouring), as nothing beats the real thing!

Simmer the mixture until the fruit is cooked.  Jar and you're done!  The directions above yields approximately one 500 mL jar.

Sidebar:  To make your own vanilla sugar, you basically put some granulated white sugar in a jar with a vanilla bean. You can either insert the bean whole or cut it into multiple pieces and leave it in a cupboard for use whenever you need. The natural oils and scent of the vanilla bean will permeate into the sugar et voil√†, you have vanilla sugar. It lasts forever and a day. Note, separate out the bits of bean before using the sugar.

Suggestions for use:
- replace regular sugar in recipes for cakes, pies, etc.
- use it for sweetening coffee, tea or other drinks
- make jars of vanilla sugar for people as a great (and inexpensive) homemade gift

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