First quince made me wince, until I learned to cook them

Quinces

Quinces

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On my meanderings around the Hampshire countryside I have noticed some older properties still have small orchards in their grounds.

Some people put their fruit out for passers-by to purchase and if you’re lucky you may be able to pick up some quince. From October until early December is the season for English quince.

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They look like a cross between an apple and a pear but its hue is golden yellow.

I can remember the first time I came across this wonderful fruit and having not used it before had to do a little research.

Every book I read suggested it should not be eaten raw.

So, being inquisitive, I sliced one up and had a taste.

The bitterness seemed to take out all the moisture in my mouth and made me suck in my cheeks. I can now confirm that it is better cooked.

If left in a bowl in your kitchen the perfume of this fruit will embrace you as you enter the room, an aroma of rose petals and honey.

Quince is a hardy fruit and even peeling it seems a challenge. Poaching in syrup can take up to half-an-hour and preserving longer, but you will be rewarded with the scent as it cooks. Some sugar and a little white wine helps soften the bitterness and bring out the floral flavours.

I have added onion and wine in this quince paste recipe which you will be able to serve with cold meats, game, pork or cheese.

n To find out more about Lawrence’s restaurant Fat Olives, visit fatolives.co.uk or call 01243 377 914.

QUINCE PASTE

Ingredients

1kg quince

400g caster sugar

2 onions finely chopped

150 ml dry white wine

Half teaspoon sea salt

Method

1 Peel, quarter and core the quince. Do not worry when the fruit starts to go brown as this will cook out.

2 Chop the fruit into 1cm pieces and place in a large pan.

3 Add the rest of the ingredients.

4 Place on a medium heat and bring to the boil. Reduce to simmer.

5 Simmer gently for 45 minutes or until the fruit is soft and almost all the liquid has disappeared. The quince will also change from yellow to orange.

6 Place the mixture into a food processor and pulse until smooth.

7 Spoon into sterilised kilner jars and allow to to cool.

8. The quince paste will keep for up to six months if stored correctly.

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