Nigel Slater’s quince recipes (2024)

There is a temptation to leave them in a bowl on the kitchen table, their soft roses ’n’ honey scent getting more pronounced as the room warms. But no – every quince needs cooking, where its impenetrable flesh will soften almost to jelly and turn the colour of a winter sunset. This is, after all, probably one of the few fruits you truly cannot eat raw.

I have braised them with lamb, adding honey, fresh ginger and saffron; roasted them with pork and marsala and baked them at a leisurely pace, basting the halves of fruit as they roasted with butter, lemon and sugar. Once I tried to capture their fragrance in an ice – and failed.

Once it has been baked or poached, the flesh becomes soft and almost Turkish delight-like. A quince in this state will benefit from a crisp crust. Best so far has been a crumble, rough as pebbledash, where I tossed together flour, butter, almonds and breadcrumbs and sweetened it with light, butterscotch-scented muscovado.

The effect of a single quince in an apple pie, which introduces a delicious hint of perfume to the filling, is well known, but it is worth cooking the quince for a little while first, as its rock-hard flesh takes longer to submit to the heat of the oven than any apple.

We grow them in the UK, but many are imported from Turkey and Iran and appear here in late autumn – the harvest is in October – to early spring, and then they vanish. This week I stewed a couple of them slowly with sugar and lemon, then tucked roughly torn pieces of panettone among them to give a warming winter pudding. And then I poached some more, to have for breakfast with yogurt, and to eat later with blue cheese – an almost molten gorgonzola.

If I had a box of fruits appear on my doorstep, I would certainly have a go at making quince jelly to eat with cheese. And I wouldn’t stop at the firm Spanish cheeses that this slightly gritty amber spread traditionally accompanies. The sweet paste shines with goat’s cheeses and blues alike. I like the idea of making a tiny parcel of blue cheese, wrapping it in pastry and serving it with membrillo, as quince paste is known, on the side.

As a culinary marriage, it sits alongside our own of a wedge of Wensleydale with a slice of fruitcake or the rare and wonderful combination (at least in my neck of the woods) of Lancashire cheese and eccles cake.

Though it is of the same family, a peeled or sliced quince will brown quicker than any apple or pear. A brushing of lemon juice will not only slow up the inevitable, but actually has something to offer in terms of flavour. Lemon, along with clove, cinnamon, maple syrup and honey, is a delightful note to bring to this fruit.

Quince and panettone pudding

Nigel Slater’s quince recipes (1)

I first made this with brioche, but panettone is much easier to find. The occasional nub of candied peel from the sweet bread is pleasing, too.

Serves 6
lemon 1
quinces 1.2kg (peeled and cored weight)
caster sugar 200g
panettone 220g

Cut the lemon in half, then squeeze one half into a medium mixing bowl.

Peel the quinces, slice them in half, then into thick segments, discarding the cores as you go. Cut the fruit into small dice and toss them in the lemon juice. Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4.

Place a large heavy-based cooking pot over a low heat and tip in the cubed quince, the caster sugar, 250ml of water and the remaining half of the lemon. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat so the quince simmers very gently. Partially cover with a lid. Let the fruit cook for about 40 minutes, during which time it will change colour to glowing yellow-pink. Stir the mixture regularly to make sure it doesn’t catch and burn. There should be quite a bit of syrup.

Remove the quince from the heat. Spoon the fruit and its cooking syrup into a baking dish approximately 24cm in diameter. Break the panettone into large bite-sized pieces, then push them down into the fruit.

Bake for 30 minutes or till the surface is crisp but still pale gold, perhaps a little toasted here and there. Serve with double cream.

Poached quince, gorgonzola cream

Sweet soft-fleshed quince and blue-veined cheese – a small jump from that other sublime partnership, ripe pears with roquefort.

Serves 4
caster sugar 150g
lemon 1
quinces 2
gorgonzola 250g
double cream 250ml

Put the sugar into a saucepan, add 750ml of water and bring to the boil. Peel the quinces then cut them in half from tip to base. Lower the quince halves into the syrup, add the lemon, cut in half then add to the pan. Turn the heat down so the quinces simmer gently. Partially cover with a lid and leave to cook, testing occasionally for tenderness with the point of a skewer.

The quinces must be thoroughly tender before being removed from the syrup. Remove the quince halves with a draining spoon, reserving a little of the syrup for moistening the fruit as you serve it. Keep the rest, refrigerated, for poaching other fruits. (Lightly perfumed, it will work for both apples and pears.) Set the quinces aside to cool.

Pour the cream into a small bowl and whisk gently till it just starts to thicken. Spoon the gorgonzola into the whipped cream and stir to mix and thicken.

Place half a quince on each of 4 plates, spoon a little syrup over, then add a generous mound of the gorgonzola cream.

Nigel Slater’s quince recipes (2024)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Nathanial Hackett

Last Updated:

Views: 6499

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (52 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Nathanial Hackett

Birthday: 1997-10-09

Address: Apt. 935 264 Abshire Canyon, South Nerissachester, NM 01800

Phone: +9752624861224

Job: Forward Technology Assistant

Hobby: Listening to music, Shopping, Vacation, Baton twirling, Flower arranging, Blacksmithing, Do it yourself

Introduction: My name is Nathanial Hackett, I am a lovely, curious, smiling, lively, thoughtful, courageous, lively person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.