Quince is one of my favorite fruits. I like the way the greenish golden fruits hang gracefully from branches bent with their weight. I like to saute them with apples and figs and duck breast, deglazed with a little balsamic. I like to soak them in wine and sugar overnight, then turn them in to Quince Tarte Tatin. Sometimes I stuff them with a sage sausage and finely minced onions then bake them like an apple. A friend makes chutney with them, and includes some juniper berries.
The classic French recipe using quince is Pate de Coing or Quince Paste, basically the same as Spain’s Membrillo. I love these dense, sweet pastes – essentially quince cooked with sugar and a tiny bit of water, but I’ve never been very successful at making them. My efforts have never jelled properly so they were impossible to slice or to roll in sugar and store like all my French friends instructed me to do.
Quince Slices in Vanilla Syrup
However, this recipe for Quince Slices in Vanilla Syrup is easy and successful. Serve it for dessert on its own or with a simple cookie or ice cream. The quince slices are also good over warm oatmeal in the morning. This was originally published in my book, The Glass Pantry, Chronicle Books and the book was short-listed for a James Beard award. If you have the book, you can see the gorgeous photo of the slices and their syrup in a jar.
Makes about 4 pints
6 quinces, about 3 pounds
4 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, about 8 inches long
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Peel and core the quinces and carefully remove and discard the seeds. Cut the fruits lengthwise into slices ½ thick. Set aside.
Combine the sugar, water, vanilla bean and lemon juice in a stainless-steel or other non-reactive saucepan large enough to hold the quince. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat and continue to boil, stirring often, until a light-to-medium –thick syrup forms, about 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat and add the quince slices. Poach the fruits until just barely tender when pierced with the tines of a fork, about 15 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending upon the maturity of the fruit.
Using a slotted utensil, tightly pack the quince slices into clean, dry jars with sealable lids. Ladle in the hot syrup to within ½-inch of the rims. Using a damp cloth, wipe the rims clean.
Cover with the lids and process for 40 minutes in a hot water bath.
Remove the jars and let them cool for at least 12 hours or overnight. Check the lids for a complete seal.
Store the sealed jars in a cool, dark place. The quince will keep for up to 1 year. Once opened, keep them refrigerated. Store any jar lacking a good seal in the refrigerator for up to one week.
If you are reluctant to can, simply keep them covered in the refrigerator, but be sure to eat them within the week.