Oven-poached Wellington County Quinces
It’s such an old fashioned fruit, likely cultivated for their very high pectin content near the back door of many farm homes. The bush mine came from is at least 12 feet high and, after such a warm summer, it was loaded. I didn’t pick them but the quince fairy left them on the front step about a month ago. They are so forgiving (a.k.a. hard as rocks) that you don’t need to use them right away. They are also one of the most perfumed fruits in existence with a fragrance that drifts through the house as they sit on the counter. The Aussies understand them and this recipe is adapted from The Cook’s Companion by Stephanie Alexander, Australia’s culinary queen.
Peel, quarter and core 6 – 8 quinces, tying the cores in cheesecloth. Place them into a heavy, oven proof casserole with 10 cups (2.25 L) of light sugar syrup (2 parts water/1 part sugar); the juice of one lemon and a whole vanilla bean. Cover and bake at 300’F for 4 – 5 hours or till the fruit is red and tender. Let cool in syrup and transfer to a glass bowl. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and stir into the poaching liquid.Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Serve them as a base for a fruit compote – I love a mixture of Bosc pears and apples – or over custard. The quinces can also be sliced and layered onto puff pastry with a good dollop of whipped cream.
Makes about 8 cups (2 L)