Some fruits are often overlooked because, at first sight, they seem inedible. However, with a little effort, these can be turned into delicious sweet treats that could very well become a favourite in your household. One example is the medlar fruit, which I champion elsewhere on my blog with my medlar butter. Another is quince. In this post, I will show you how to make dried quince snack bites and quince syrup that you can use as a sweetener and flavour enhancer in your dishes.
Quince is a fruit that needs a little effort to make edible, but it is well worth it! To make it edible, it needs to be cooked. Fresh from the tree, quince is a hard, aromatic (our car smells wonderful driving how after a quince picking session!) bright golden-yellow fruit, similar in appearance to a pear. A bite into it at this stage would not be particularly pleasant unless you like hard, tart fruit. Once cooked though, they can be made into jams and quince cheese due to their high pectin content, or an alcoholic drink, to name a few uses. I like to make delicious dried fruit pieces for a snack and utilize the liquids from this as a sweet syrup to add to recipes or even my porridge at breakfast.
Quince has enjoyed popularity throughout history. Native to Iran and the Caucasus regions, it was already widespread in Europe by the time of the Romans. In Greek mythology quince has strong relation to the goddess Aphrodite. Consequently it played an important role in ancient Greek weddings. Ancient physicians praised its medicinal properties. There is even speculation that the "forbidden fruit" in the garden of Eden was a quince!
'Membrillo', or quince jelly, is a popular sweet treat now. It is national dish in Spain, when served with Spanish cheese. Quince cheese is also very popular in other countries such as Hungary, Brazil, France and Mexico. Interestingly, the word Marmalade comes from the Portuguese word marmelada, which means "quince preparation". The earliest marmalade was made with quince and honey.
- Demerara sugar
See the recipe card for quantities.
Cut the quince into quarters and remove the hard core. Slice into 2mm thick wedges.
Pack the quince into the sterilised jar. Add sugar on top of the quince and give it a shake so that the sugar descends into the quince slices. Fasten the lid and set it aside on your kitchen counter top, away from direct sunlight.
Each day, give the jar with a shake a couple of times for the sugar to disperse. By day one, you will see liquid in the jar. this liquid is the sugar drawing the moisture out from the quince.
By day two, all the sugar will have dissolved, and the liquid will increase in volume.
Strain the quince liquid into a bowl.
Transfer the liquid to a pot, bring it to a rapid boil, and immediately turn off the heat.
Then transfer it into a sterilised bottle and allow it to cool to the touch, then refrigerate
As for the quince slices, arrange them in a dehydrated set at 40ºC and dry them for about 4 hours. If using an oven, dehydrate at 70ºc for two to three hours.
Once the quince pieces are dry and chewy, transfer them into an airtight jar.
You can replace the quince with apple or pears. The time to extract the moisture and dehydration times will differ.
I have used demerara sugar, you can replace this with either raw cane sugar or soft brown sugar. I prefer not to use castor sugar as it can become caky and not dissolve properly.
If quince syrup is all you are after, you can boil it in sugar and water, which will give you the quince syrup, but the quince itself cannot be used as it will become pulpy. Of course, you can dehydrate the pulp. However, I find a lot of flavour and texture is lost.
You will need a sterilised two-litre glass jar and a sterilised one-litre bottle for the quince syrup. To dry the quince a dehydrator is very useful, although you can dry the quince in an oven.
I recommend keeping the syrup refrigerated; if the bottle and all equipment has been sterilised carefully, it can last up to a year.
The dried quince pieces can be stored in an airtight glass jar. It should last more than three months; however, in my household, they disappear in a week.
Dried Quince & Quince Syrup
- Digital scales
- 2-litre glass jar with lid
- 1 Litre Glass bottle
- 1.2 kg Quince
- 250 g Demerara Sugar
- Wash the quince thoroughly and pat them dry.
- Wash the two-litre jar with hot soapy water and sterilise it in the oven at 100ºC for 30 minutes.
- Cut the quince into quarters and remove the hard core. Slice into 2mm thick slices.
- Pack the quince into the sterilised jar.
- Add the sugar on top of the quince and give it a shake. Fasten the lid and set aside on your kitchen counter top away from direct sunlight.
- Each day for two days, shake the jar a couple of times for the sugar to disperse. At the end of day one, you will see liquid in the jar. This liquid is the sugar drawing the moisture out from the quince.
- All the sugar should have dissolved on day two, and you will have syrup in a jar.
- Strain the quince liquid into a bowl. Transfer the liquid to a pot and bring it to a rapid boil. Imediately turn off the heat and then transfer the syrup into a sterilised bottle and allow it to cool to the touch. Then refrigerate.
- Arrange the quince slices in a dehydrator set at 40ºC and dry them for about four hours. If using an oven, dehydrate at 70ºc for two to three hours.
- Once the quince slices are dry and chewy, transfer them into an airtight jar.
In a professional kitchen, food hygiene and safety are top priorities, and from the beginning of my training, I practised good habits and routines. Of course, practising good food hygiene and safety at home is also essential. Here are some fundamental practices to adopt in the kitchen.
- Wash your hands regularly while preparing, handling and cooking food.
- Wipe down countertops and high-contact points regularly.
- If you cook meat and fish, do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat. Use separate chopping boards for meat and fish. Wash your chopping boards immediately after use.
- Thoroughly cook food to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C).
- Don't leave food at room temperature for extended periods (more than 2 hours).
- Store food correctly.
For more details regarding food hygiene and safety in the home, visit the UK Government's Food Standards Agency webpage.
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