Quinces! Quinces arrived at the market yesterday so, inevitably, I bought a large bag. (As may be apparent from this blog’s name, I have a special fondness for the fruit.) Quinces are harvested in early fall and, unlike apples and pears to which they are related, can only be stored until December, so it’s a fairly small window of opportunity.
I am still undecided about what to make with these quinces. Last year I tackled quince jelly and fortuitously wound up producing kilos of quince paste with the leftover purée. I am tempted by apple and quince crumble or lamb and quince tagine. Whatever happens with the quince, I will record my endeavors here. In the meantime, the smell of the fruit sitting on my dining table is intoxicating and I realize that I don’t know much about the origins of quince, so I decided to do a little cursory research.
Quinces (cydonia oblonga) originated in the Caucasus and have been grown around the eastern Mediterranean for thousands of years. Cultivation spread before that of the apple, and many historical apples were actually most probably quinces. Apparently, for example, the apple by which Paris chose Aphrodite in the dispute that lead to the Trojan war was really a quince.
Quinces grow in temperate and subtropical climates and are important in the cooking of their native region the Caucasus, as well as Turkey, Iran, Morocco, and Eastern Europe. Quinces were brought to America by early settlers and now grow throughout the continent, but their popularity in the United States has declined over time.
Quinces keep for one to two weeks uncovered at (cool) room temperature – I should have bought more. Right now I am thinking quince dinner on Saturday, and hope there will be more quince at the market next week for jelly and fruit paste.