Quince (Cydonia oblonga; =Chaenomeles xsuperba), of course, are related to apples and pears, being in the Rose family (Rosaceae). They are native to the Caucasus Region of southwestern Asia. The fruit have a fuzz that wipes off quickly to reveal a glorious buttery yellow skin.
The thing to remember when cooking quince is that it takes TIME! It may take 5-7 hours of slow baking or poaching to get them soft enough. Best to peel them, cut them in half and wait to scoop out the seeds/stem until after they are cooked (they're hard as stone otherwise!!). Interestingly enough, as the quince cook the tannins turn to red pigments (anthocyanins), resulting in dark pink or red flesh!
We baked some in a shallow baking dish with lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, and a cinnamon stick, gently basting them from time-to-time. And, voila! Here is the delightfully red quince served with fresh whipped cream!
Later, for Thanksgiving Dinner, we made a cranberry relish with some of Poached Quince. We poached quince (peeled, halved) in Bohemian Seco "champagne", along with vanilla bean (scored open vertically), cinnamon sticks, lemon juice and lemon zest. Poaching took ~4 hours with a slow simmer. These were stored (refrigerated or frozen) for use, when the spirit hits.
For the cranberry relish, we used Neil's sister Wanda's recipe and modified it by adding in poached quince. Here it is simmering away on the stove:
1/3 cup Ruby Port Wine
1/4 cup Czech honey (we used the amber colored honey from the farmer's market)
Boil these together until well enmeshed and the cranberries are done.
1 finely finely sliced poached quince, destemmed and deseeded
2 small, ripe finely sliced pears, peeled, destemmed/deseeded
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, aged (thick)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
zest of 1 orange
Simmer slowly for 15-20 minutes until it is a ruby red color.
Chill. Serve with turkey or other meats. Also good on ice cream or as a 'jam' on toast!
As it simmers, it gets redder and redder: