Tuesday, April 17, 2012
I sometimes wonder how people figured out that you could eat various items of food. I mean who first decided to separate eggs and find out that you can whip egg whites till they become stiff? What about plants like taro that are toxic when raw? Who thought "lets just cook this poisonous plant to see if we can eat it then" - and who tried the cooked stuff first? And who was it upon finding a rock hard, misshapen quince thought, if I cook this for several hours it will become delicious?
Well I think in all these cases we can thank those pioneering first cooks and even more to the taste testers who they employed, because the results have been used to wonderful effect by cooks over the years since.
I have been hearing about the wonder that is a quince for quite some time now. While I was familiar with quince paste as an ideal cheese accompaniment, I hadn't tried the fresh fruit. They have a limited season, so I was very pleased to actually remember them when I was at the green grocers. Quince are not the prettiest of fruit. Craggy would be a good description. And the white flesh discolours almost instantly when exposed to air. But after several hours poaching they turn the most gorgeous dark pink colour and the hard - I mean be careful not to cut yourself with the kitchen knife hard - flesh becomes soft and tender. It really is an amazing transformation.
I poached 3 quince, by making a poaching liquid of a litre of water, a cup of sugar, a vanilla bean and a pinch of cloves. The quinces I peeled under running water, then cut into 8ths and cored. I simply popped them in the boiling liquid, turned it down to a gentle simmer and left them alone for 2 hours.
I've had some warm with ice-cream, but have mainly been enjoying them with my museli and yoghurt or porridge for breakfast. They went particularly well with porridge - just a sprinkle of cinnamon and no sweetener other than the fruit was perfect. Faux Fuchsia has a wonderful sounding cake made with them over on her blog.
I have to say, I'm not 100% convinced that the quince can replace rhubarb compote in my mind as my preferred cooked fruit, but then again, I'm not that keen on cloves so I might try the recipe again leaving them out. Still they are a very yummy addition to my breakfast and they are just so pretty. Plus they keep in the fridge just fine for at least a week and you can freeze them no problems which does make them rather ideal for cooking up in big batches.
Have you tried quince and what did you think?