Sweet and sour quinces with dried fruits

Quince (Cydonia oblonga) is right at the top of my fruit-trees-I-would-plant-if-I-had-any-room-left list. Right now, I don’t have any space left in my garden to plant one. That, however, does not really stop me. I planted quince “Champion” in my parents’ garden and then, when one of the ornamental beds in ours street needed to be replanted, I went around the neighbourhood convincing people that a quince was just what we need. So now we also have the quince ”Vranja” in our street. Last year it fruited for the first time and I found out I’m not the only one who loves quince – most fruits were picked before I got there. Which I’m happy about, as hopefully, it is  a small beginning of more edible plants in our urban landscape.

Quince resembles a large yellow apple or pear, but unlike those, it has to be cooked before you can eat it. Most often I just stew quinces with spices and a little sugar. Sometimes I make membrillo. But last week I made this slightly more sophisticated recipe. It is a kind of relish/chutney, with dried fruits and plenty of warming spices. It’s both sweet and sour and contrasts wonderfully with winter meals, especially those featuring winter squash. We ate it with the wild rice and winter squash salad and it is also great alongside winter squash galette. It keeps for several weeks, so you will surely find more ways to use it!

One year ago: Carrot, apple and walnut muffins

Sweet and sour quinces with dried fruits
Adapted from Deborah Madison: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

2 ripe yellow quinces (about 1/2 kilo/ 1pound)
1 tsp salt
110 g (½ cup ) raw cane sugar
75 g (1/3 cup) dark brown sugar (I used Muscovado)
60 ml (¼ cup) apple cider vinegar
1 tsp coriander seeds
4 cloves
¼ tsp black peppercorns
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried raisins
1/3 cup diced dried apricots
balsamic vinegar

Cut the quinces into eights, like apples. Peel and core each piece, then slice crosswise into small pieces 1 cm (slightly less than ½ inch) thick. Put the quinces, 500 ml (2 cups) water and 1 tsp salt in a saucepan and bring to boil for 5 minutes. Add the sugars, cider vinegar and spices, then cook over low heat, uncovered, until the quinces turn pink, about 45 to 60 minutes. If needed, add more water. Add the dried fruits and cook until they are soft, 12 to 15 minutes. Taste and season with balsamic vinegar (I used about 2 tsp – but it depends on the quality of your vinegar and your taste). Store in a clean jar in the refrigerator for several weeks.

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