Tuesday, October 16, 2012


One of the joys of eating locally and seasonally is that moment in time when one perfect food appears, then quickly disappears again.  Morels, strawberries, and dandelion leaves in the spring; that first, sun soaked, still warm on the vine tomato in the summer; in the winter, for me, it's the first homemade pickled thing, popped out of a jar, with just the perfect amount of brine clinging on it; and in the fall - pumpkins and squash, pears, and quince.
Our tasting at the Aeppel Treow Winery, next
door to the Orchard
Two weekends ago, Jeff and I went to Brightonwoods Orchard, in Burlington WI.  In addition to many pounds of apples for eating and drying, and a case of apple related booze from the Apple Winery next door, I picked up about five pounds of quince.

This is our second trip to Brightonwoods Orchard, and I'm a big fan.  They don't have that much, it's not a pick your own deal, so if you've got kids and you're into all that stuff they might not be right for you.  But for us, it's perfect.  We walk around the orchard for about 15 minutes, look in their cute little market, then head next door to the Apple Winery (I want to call it a Cidery, but spell check keeps telling me that's not a word...) and get drunk.

Quince is not, I've learned, a particularly popular product.  So much so that I usually need to repeat it 5 or 6 times before people understand what I'm saying:

ME: Quince
Person: Quint?
ME: Quince.
Person: Quints?
Person: Quimp?

Quimp?  Really?  That's not even almost a word.

After some quick research on Wikipedia: Quince was once a popular fruit in the United States, being brought over by English Settlers.  In England, it is appropriate to have one quince tree ta the lower corner of a proper garden, and two in a well stocked orchard.

So even then, when it was "popular," people were getting at most one or two trees.

I have no clue why.  If anyone wants to do more research than I did (I looked it up on Wikipedia on my phone, so it wouldn't take much to be "more" research than I did) I would be happy to hear it.  If you would like to write a report on quince, I will totally post it and link to your blog or thing you want to promote.  Shoot me a message on Facebook (see how that makes you like me on Facebook?  I'm such a scammer!)  The trees appear to be nice - little pretty trees with gnarled bonsai like branches and large pink flowers.  It is also (per my extensive Wikipedia research) a useful plant.  Quince is high in pectin and therefor is good to add to jams and jellies.  The plant itself is strong and can be grafted on to other plants in the rose family (apples, pears, peaches... all roses.  If you know me personally, that might explain why I really want to have an orchard) to dwarf the plant and increase the yield.

So why aren't we growing it?

No demand.

I blame you personally.  When's the last time you went and asked for quince at your neighborhood grocery store?  And why not.  It's a perfectly fine fruit - somewhere between an apple and a pear, with a bit of a pineapple aroma.  Okay, sure' you've got to peel it and cook it before you can eat it (raw quince are inedible), but there are lots of things you cook before eating and it's not stopping anybody.  Rhubarb, for example, not so hot raw.  But people are still making Rhubarb pies.  Why no quince pies?

So, go out and demand some quince!  Get the farmer's growing it.  And when you plan your orchard, or well stocked garden, remember to plant at least one or two quince trees.  No "quimp" trees, because that's not a thing.
This is neither a quince tree nor a quinp tree.  It's an apple
If you would like to see more of the orchard trip pictures, Like "Home Grown, Homemade" on Facebook!

Beef Short Ribs with Quince
(this recipe is modified from several I found for lamb shank.  You can do this with lamb shank as well - but you may want to reduce the cooking time depending on the size of your shank.)

(Anyone else giggle at "size of your shank"?  No?  Just me.  That's fine.  I'm a child.)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lbs Beef short ribs, trimmed of fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 or more garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tsp freshly ground ginger
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 quinces, peeled, core removed, and quartered
  • 3 cups chicken or beef stock
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon rind
  • Cilantro and Couscous for serving
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. 

Season the short ribs generously with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a large ovenproof casserole or french oven over medium high heat and cook the shanks in batches until well browned.  Transfer to a plate.  Reduce the heat to low.  Add the onion and sweat until softened - about 10 to 15 minutes.  Turn the heat back up to medium high, stir in the garlic and spices and cook, stirring, for one minute or until fragrant.  Do not let the spices burn!

Return the meat to the pan, add the stock and honey, bring to a boil then cover with the lid and place in the oven.  After 30 minutes, stir in the quince, and continue to cook for another hour.  Add the lemon rind, taste and adjust seasonings, and continue to cook for 30 more minutes (2 hours total).

Serve over couscous with freshly chopped cilantro.
I also made curried cauliflower.  The orange
stuff in this picture is the quince.

Quince in Syrup
  • 2 lbs quince
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups honey
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 2 whole cloves (optional)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (optional)
Peel, core, and slice the quince.  In a large pot, combine water, honey, and any desired spices, and bring to a gentle boil.  Add the quince (the plural of quince is quince, by the way), and allow to simmer until just tender 20 minutes, or less depending on the thickness of your slices.

Remove the quince from the pot and raise the temperature to high.  Allow to boil until reduced in half.

From here you've got a few options.  You could serve the quince and syrup over ice cream or a pound cake.  Or, you could take just the fruit and substitute it for half of the apples in your favorite apple pie or crisp or crumble or whatever.  I went the crisp method.

1 comment:

  1. OK, so I didn't giggle at the phrase "size of your shank" but I did giggle at your comment about giggling. :)

    I'd never even heard of quince before.