Batch of the day: quince

Categories: Expert guidance

Jenny Chandler expounds on the benefits of batch cooking as a way of saving time and money, through cooking one ingredient in bulk and using it for myriad recipes. This time: quince

Unlike so much ubiquitous fruit that’s available, whether it’s the local season or not, quince is very definitely an autumnal treat. Whether you’re lucky enough to have a neighbour with a tree or a fabulous market stall or greengrocer nearby, you’ll have to be quick to snap them up before they’re gone. Their short appearance is part of their charm and a very good reason to cook up a batch and enjoy them in any number of meals.

The quince, often reputed to be Aphrodite’s love apple, is a rather curious fruit—like a luscious golden pear with the odd patch of suede-y grey down. It’s not convenience food either, since its flesh is inedible raw, but after a slow roast in the oven with a little sugar or honey it becomes a perfumed and exotic, rusty-red treat.

I do adore quince cheese (the set paste that often goes by its Spanish name, membrillo)—glassy-clear quince jellies, too, but these require time and patience to make. A tray of roasting quince looks after itself, offers you numerous recipe options, and makes your kitchen smell divine to boot.

Suede-like down
You can play around with all sorts of favourite spices and syrups, but here’s a good starting point. Take half a dozen medium-sized quinces and wash off the suede-like down. Preheat the oven to about 200C while you peel the fruit. Have a bowl with about a pint of water and the juice of a lemon to hand and drop the quince straight in as you go, to stop it browning. The flesh is really tough to cut through, so do take care as you peel, core, and then divide the fruit into quarters (or sixths if the quince are particularly large).

Now place the quince, lemony water, a couple of sticks of cinnamon and a good dose of sugar (about 250g allows the acidity of the quince to shine through), into a heatproof dish, cover with foil and place in the oven for about 1 hour. Then, lift off the foil and continue to roast for another 30 mins, until the quince flesh is soft and turns a deep amber (the colour darkens further as it cools down).

Of course, you may choose to add cardamom, vanilla, orange zest or bay. You could add honey or maple syrup in place of the sugar. It all depends what plans you have for your quince.

Roasted quince

A few ideas to make the most of your batch-roasted quince:

—Pep up your morning porridge with a few slivers on the top.

—Make a crumble or use a little of your precious quince to lift a simple apple crumble.

—Eat with dollops of yoghurt, honey and rosewater.

—Create an autumnal pavlova with blackberries, hazelnuts and a ginger meringue.

—Top really thin puff pastry with sliced quince and bake for 20 mins in a hot oven.

—Serve on a cheeseboard with something sharp and tangy.

—Cut into small pieces and serve in an autumnal salad of cooked lentils, blue cheese and walnuts.

—Blitz the flesh and add to a garlicky aioli to serve with lamb.

—Add to a Moroccan couscous or tagine.

—Make a super-quick supper of pork tenderloin, winter greens and mash.