Our ancient orchard (50 – 75 years old) holds a number of quince trees. Before I was associated with this orchard, I had barely even heard of quince. I’ve come to know that while they are a different type of fruit, they are quite tasty. In fact, we have been selling the quince to a number of gourmet restaurants in the Puget Sound area. My research indicates that quince were well known with the ancient Greeks, in fact Paris awarded Aphrodite with quince in an ancient Greek myth. Quince are grown widely in Europe and were grown in the 18th Century American Colonies. One quince tree was always in the lower corner of the vegetable garden. In fact Thomas Jefferson had a quince tree in his orchard at Monticello.
This was the first year I made quince jam and was pleased to discover it’s wonderful difference. The recipe below is a jam made without pectin, so it’s more like an applesauce consistency. It’s wonderful on toast or crackers and freezes well. This recipe comes our way via Cyd, a local gardener.
4 cups chopped cored peeled quince (about 1.5 pounds)
1/2 lemon, seeded and coarsely chopped (including peel).
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 inch piece of vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Place quince and lemon in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until finely chopped. Place quince misture, sugar, water and vanilla in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 55 minutes or until reduced to 3.5 cups. Cool pour into airtight containers. Refrigerate for two months or freeze in small containers.