Somewhere in November, my mom texted me the photos below with the caption: ‘We have all these beautiful fragrant quince – what should I do with them?’
The fruits were from a tree in their garden that we planted together about seven years ago, at a time when I myself had no space for a quince tree. We put it at the bottom of the garden in a somewhat wet spot that was not suitable for an apple tree but was fine for a quince. The name of the variety is ‘Champion’ and it has grown really well and started producing fruit in its third year.
If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you can probably guess that I had a lot to say on the subject of cooking with quince – my over-excited answer was something like: you should make membrillo! And roast them! Or poach them!
And then I remembered there’s one more beloved recipe that I make almost every year but have not share yet: quince and cranberry chutney. It combines two of my favourite seasonal fruits (though I do have to buy the cranberries) and is wonderfully spiced. In fact I always make lots so that I can give some away when we visit friends during the holidays (it is my firm belief that edible gifts are the best kind of gifts).
One of the virtues of a chutney is that it stores so well – thanks to the vinegar it won’t go bad even after you open the jar. In winter we almost always have an open jar of chutney in the fridge to eat with curries which we tend to make regularly during the colder months. But it’s also perfect with brie or blue cheese for a holiday cheese board!
Quince & cranberry chutney
only slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson: How to be a domestic Goddess
450g (1 pound) quince, peeled (save the peelings), cored and roughly chopped
800 ml (3 ¼ cup) water
450g (1 pound) cooking apples
1 medium onion, chopped
220 g (half a pound/8 ounces) fresh cranberries
140g (5 ounces) dried cranberries
375 g (2 cups) natural cane sugar
2 cinnamon sticks, crumbled
1 tbsp English mustard powder
juice and zest of one orange
Juice and zest of one lemon
375 ml (1 ½ cups) cider vinegar
Clean and sterilize the jars (I boil them for ten minutes). Put the peelings and cores from the quince into a pan with the water. Boil for about 10 to 15 minutes until you have about 375 ml (1 ½ cup)s remaining.
Put all the ingredients plus the strained liquid into a large pan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Then bring to the boil and cook for about one hour. Keep the pan at a gentle boil until everything thickens slightly – the resulting chutney should be soft and fairly pulpy with just pieces of quince visible. Ladle into the prepared jars. Store for 3 to 4 weeks before eating so that the taste can mellow.