[Sca-cooks] what do you do with Quinces?

Stefan li Rous StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
Thu Jan 4 17:14:09 PST 2007

Helen asked:

<<< Warning; I am in all possibilities, about to ask a stupid  

Not very likely.

<<< I have seen these boxes of tiny yellow quinces in the store, at  
rather high prices, considering. There may be about a dozen or so in  
a box, and the price hovers from 2.50 to 3, per box. >>>

I've seldom seen them here and when I have, 2.50 to 3 EACH is closer  
to the price I remember seeing. Maybe there are different size quinces.

<<< What can you do with them, and how many would it take to do them  
right?  Five pounds of them would be rather...pricey...for an  
experiment. >>>

Quince paste/marmalade.  Because of its high natural pectin content,  
quinces were probably the first fruit used to make marmalades.

fruit-quinces-msg (86K)  6/11/06    Period uses and recipes for quinces.
marmalades-msg    (76K)  6/18/04    Period marmalades and fruit  
jellies and jams

Since I find his story amusing and because this question about ripe  
or overly-ripe quinces came up in another thread, here is a message  
from my fruit-quinces-msg file.


From: "Diamond Randall" <ringofkings at mindspring.com>
To: "sca-cooks" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>
Date: Sat, 16 Feb 2002 8:55:10 -0800
Subject: [Sca-cooks] Re: Shopping as Economic Warfare

 > From: Stefan li Rous <stefan at texas.net[1]>
 > >Another good one that I like is how Baron Akim got his quinces to  
 > >quince paste two years ago. Quinces are usually rather expensive in
 > >the grocery. They also happen to need to be overly ripe before you
 > >can use them. (See the fruit-quinces-msg file in the  
Florilegium). Anyway,
 > >Akim managed to time it to show up at his grocery when the quinces
 > >were beginning to look old and "gooey". And offered the grocery a
 > >fraction of their original asking price for these ugly, doubtlessly
 > >about to go to waste, fruits. And thus he came to Pennsic with a
 > >large container of quince paste which some of us there got to taste.

Anahita replied:
 > Well, this is the first time I've ever heard of using over-ripe
 > quinces. A ripe quince is really really hard but incredibly
 > wonderfully fragrant. I've never seen a gooey quince and one like
 > that would be rather "gone". For jams and pates one generally doesn't
 > use the spoiled ones, but I am not dissing Baron Akim, since quinces
 > are quite expensive, and i think he did fine, talking the grocer down
 > to a good price.
 > I bought a whole case of them in November

While I did get a really good deal,  the quinces weren't exactly  
"gone".  The shelf life of a hard fruit like quince is pretty long  
compared with say peaches and apples (but not eternal like  
fruitcakes).  I have never seen an "overripe" quince either.  They  
are either firm and rather hard or go to areas of mushy brown rot  
like a pear.  What I bought was actually good quality fruit which I  
would describe as "shopworn" with blemishes on the skins (but not  
gooey bruises or rot).  There were a few which had shown signs of  
dehydration with slight withering at the base of the stem.. This is  
no different from the long stored "winter apples" you get by Spring  
which are no longer crisp but still fine for baking and making  
applesauce.  I was able to make the produce grocer realize that while  
still good and wonderfully fragrant, the increasingly "tired" look of  
the fruit was not going to remain marketable at the asking price.   
For $2.00 each, patrons expect perfection.  Also the holiday season  
was about past when the few people who buy them for their traditional  
fare.  Offering to buy out the whole display for $.10 each was not  
completely successful, but he sold me all but the absolutely perfect  
ones (selling me about 90 % of the quinces) at $.20 each.   This was  
about 2 bushels.  Most of the surface blemishes came off in peeling  
with firm flesh underneath and judicious paring saved at least half  
of more damaged fruits. If you have ever had to prepare a lot of  
quinces, you know there is going to be a lot of waste anyway as they  
are not easy to peel. and dice.  The kitchen smelled wonderful with  
the heavy quince fragrance.  My bargain was catching the quinces just  
past their optimum period of easy marketability.

Akim Yaroslavich

THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
    Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas           
StefanliRous at austin.rr.com
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****

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