Quince looks like a mixture between an apple and a pear, but tastes like neither. Beneath their golden yellow skin, tough and covered in fuzz, quinces are rock-hard and unpleasantly bitter when raw. But, don’t let that deter you from giving them a try. When cooked slowly with sugar, water and little lemon, they become soft and sweet and intensely fragrant with hints of jasmine, guava, pineapple and vanilla.
Today, only about 200 acres of quince trees are grown commercially in the U.S. The majority of them come from California’s San Joaquin Valley (south of Fresno), where they ripen in late September and are available through November. Shopping at our farmers market, their were only four left, proving their secret popularity and possible comeback in the kitchen. Add them to homemade applesauce and serve with latkes or roast pork. Poach them in muscat wine like you would a pear, but only longer. Or, try them in an apple pie or a crumble for a new take on a old fall favorite.
Recipe: Quince and Apple Crumble
Tip: A light speckling of brown spots should not affect the fruit’s flavor or quality. Store fruit that is not completely yellow at room temperature, until it has fully ripened and is deeply fragrant.