Falling for Quince
This post written by our Resident Farm Foodie – Debra Dubief
The smell was intoxicating. The contents of the small bag in my trunk were permeating my entire car. I tried to identify the aromas as I drove home; exotic, tropical, rich and sweet with hints of pear and apple. After polling the family we decided that the dominant scent emanating from my bag of odd looking golden orbs was the sweet aroma of very ripe pineapple.
When our delivery of quince arrived a few days earlier I was immediately besotted by their fragrance. As it happened, a sample of gorgeous cranberries landed on my desk the next day and felt certain these two fall fruits should be together. As I peeled and cored the quince (a task that takes great care) the scent begged for something exotic to spice things up. Nothing as cloying as cinnamon or as pungent as nutmeg, I opted for my favorite, cardamom, and also grabbed the vanilla bean that was crying out to be included.
The resulting cranberry and quince sauce was exactly what I was hoping for. A sweet, tart sauce, complemented by exotic spiciness, with the warmth of fresh vanilla rounding things out. In the name of research, I began eating it on everything. It was fantastic on thick yogurt and wonderful with chicken and pork. I loved it with cheese and imagine it will sparkle on holiday cheese plates. Not to mention anything this versatile is sure to be mighty fine alongside our Thanksgiving bird.
Cranberry Quince Sauce
5 quinces (2 to 2 1/4 pounds), peeled, cored, cut into 1–inch chunks
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp finely grated lemon peel
1/3 of a whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Seeds from 4 whole cardamom pods, crushed in mortar and pestle (or ¾ t. ground)
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/4 tsp coarse kosher salt
Combine first 5 ingredients in a heavy large saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add to the pan along with the vanilla skin and cardamom. Bring to a boil over medium–high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium–low.
Cover and simmer until slightly thickened and quinces are soft, stirring occasionally, about 20-30 minutes. Add cranberries; cook over medium heat until most of berries burst, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Stir in salt.
Transfer sauce to bowl. Cover and refrigerate sauce. Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled. Serve sauce cold or at room temperature.