Steven and I have been obsessing about quince lately. While shopping for kitchen cabinets, we discovered a Mexican supermarket in East Palo Alto that sells them in quantity. And these babies are fresh and aromatic all the time. Poached quince tastes so good, and the aroma is out-of-this-world! The color and texture reminds me of guava compote. Though a dull off-white or pale yellow when freshly opened, quince turns a lovely shade of red when cooked. It has a nice grainy texture, similar to pears. You should try cooking with quince sometime.
In the past whenever I saw quince at the markets I felt intimidated, not knowing exactly how to handle it. Not anymore. We recently tried two variations of a quince quick bread that were phenomenal: the tropical version and the classic French version.
Peeling and chopping quince is tricky because they are very hard, sort of like winter squash, but nothing you can’t accomplish with the help of a good potato peeler and a sharp knife.
I have adapted this jam from a poached quince recipe I saw on a Canadian blog publishing food of Greek origin. I forgot the name of the blog. I hate that! It will come to me sometime and I’ll update the post.
2 quince, peeled, seeds and fibrous cores removed, cut into small chunks
1 cup tawny port
¾ cup brown sugar
Enough water to submerge quince in pressure cooker
2 pieces star anise
dash of salt
Juice of 2 lemons
Place cut quince, port, brown sugar, water and star anise and salt in a pressure cooker and cook for about 15 minutes or longer if not soft. Remove star anise. Using a stick blender, blend into a paste. Stir in lemon juice. Adjust flavor with more sugar and/or lemon juice for extra sweetness or sourness. Transfer to a bowl and allow it to cool. Decorate top of jam with star anise. Serve with blue or hard cheeses such as Stilton, Cabrales, Manchego or Romano. Alternatively you can have it for breakfast spread on a piece of toast. Delish!