Forgotten fruits

Quince is one of those things I’d seen referenced in historical literature, but had never encountered in person. Although Wikipedia tells me it’s eaten fairly regularly in some parts of Europe, and there’s absolutely nothing preventing it being grown in the U.S., you’re not going to find it at your average supermarket here.

I suspect that’s in part because you mostly can’t snack on it raw, the way you can with apples and pears and oranges and bananas and all the other things commonly found in the produce section. You either have to cook it, or you have to wait for it to blet — that is, to go overripe and sort of (but not exactly) rotten. The same is true of medlars, another fruit we’ve largely forgotten. Also some varieties of persimmons; I suspect the one time I tried to eat ripe persimmon I may have been eating the wrong kind, as I found it unpleasantly astringent. But those I’m seeing around more these days — though still not at the supermarket. Persimmon trees aren’t uncommon in northern California, so not only the farmers’ market but possibly one’s neighbors may have their fruit on offer.

But if waiting for fruit to sort of but not exactly rot isn’t your idea of an appetizing approach, there’s always cooking. Which is why quince has come into my life: one stall at our farmers’ market sells it, and last year my husband (who makes jam) ventured to make quince paste. It’s very strong-tasting stuff — but if you pair it with manchego cheese (itself quite strong-tasting), a strange alchemy happens and you wind up with something amazing.

All well and good. But this year he wound up with a few extra quinces, not quite enough to make another batch of paste. So instead he decided to make quince-and-apple pie for Thanksgiving. It’s quite nice! Quinces are related to apples anyway, and they combine well. Which is good when your husband decides he’s got too much quince for one pie, but enough apple to fill it out and make two pies.

. . . during the Thanksgiving when your sister-in-law already has a store-bought apple pie and a small cherry pie, and is making a pumpkin pie. O_O Five pies (well, four and a half) for nine people. Um.

There are, of course, other things one can do with quince. Like poach them in sugar water with some spices. One might possibly suggest to one’s husband that this would have been more sensible than making a second quince-and-apple pie. One might not quite buy one’s husband’s argument that you really want larger chunks of quince for that, and he’d already sliced it all thin, so there was nothing to be done but make a second pie.

But hey. There’s always next year. And maybe I’ll find some medlars for him to poach instead.

2 Responses to “Forgotten fruits”

  1. Mady

    Quinces are very common where I live, along with apples, pears, wax cherries and plums. They also appear in most kids’s drawings of autumn fruits.
    We mostly eat it raw ( the variety that grows here it’s almost like a tougher pear ), but lots of people cook them into jam, compote or even pickle them.

    reply

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