A few days ago, hubby came home with two gorgeously voluptuous, golden and deliciously fragrant, huge quince. He found them at our local ethnic shop and they are certainly a whole other story to our native English quinces!
I pondered, for a while, what to do with these two lovelies. Hubby was keen to make a small batch jam with them, but I realised that he wouldn't have a chance to do that in the foreseeable future, purely from a time restriction point of view. I have baked with our little English quinces in the past and wanted to do something different to that, so decided to just go ahead and plain old poach them. We love poached pears, so I knew I was onto a good bet.
Some time last year, hubby made some wine with our home grown rhubarb. He still has several bottles in the shed and when I was pondering what to include in the simple syrup, I was initially intending to include Marsala wine. Right up until he cracked open a bottle of his rhubarb wine and I had a little taste. Wow. LOTS of alcohol, but behind that there's a lovely flavour. Not particularly rhubarb, but a lovely flavour nonetheless. So that was the wine component sorted.
As for additional flavours, well I knew that green cardamom was a definite. I liked the slightly exotic, middle eastern kind of vibe that would fit well with the quince. I was pondering other, similar, spices when I suddenly remembered the pomegranate molasses I had in the cupboard. That would continue the theme perfectly!
The quince can be quite a challenge to peel and core - I recommend having both a sharp peeler and knife! Just take your time and make sure not to let either gadget slip, as the fruit will change colour to a rich amber without the addition of your blood to help it on its way!
Make sure to put the peeled and cored pieces into some acidulated water, to prevent them discolouring. I simply filled a bowl with cold water and added half a lemon's worth or slices and juice. Cut each quince into quarters. Two quarters makes for a perfect dessert serving, accompanied by some cream or Greek yoghurt.
Once the fruit is prepared, combine all the other ingredients in the pressure cooker. Once they are nicely mixed and the sugar has dissolved, add the quince pieces and on goes the lid.
Bring the pressure cooker up to pressure and cook for around 20 minutes if the quince is quite ripe, slightly longer if it appears to be a little under-ripe.
At the end of the cooking time, I removed the quince pieces and the cardamom pods and boiled the remaining liquor until it had taken on a lovely syrupy sheen and had reduced by a little more than half. Taste it as it reduces, then you'll know when to stop concentrating the flavours. Pour the syrup on top of the fruit and cardamom and leave to cool. The cardamom will continue to infuse into the syrup until such time as you are ready to serve.
I served ours with a spoonful of Greek yoghurt and it was utterly divine. The fruit takes on a beautiful deep amber colour and has the consistency of a good clotted cream fudge, but with a slight graininess that is reminiscent of pears. The flavour is just so good. Intensely fruity, with a slight toffeeness and that gorgeous botanical, floral bouquet. My son described it well, in that it tastes like Witch Hazel smells.
I've got one half quince left, which I'm intending on including in some chocolate fruit baskets for a sweet choice as part of an afternoon tea. If it works well, I'll add it on to the blog!
PRESSURE COOKER POACHED QUINCE (serves 4)
2 large ripe quinces, peeled, cored and quartered
250ml sweet white wine
500ml warm water
40g granulated sugar
5 whole cardamom pods
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses.
Having peeled, cored and quartered the quinces, make sure to place them into acidulated water as you go, so as to prevent them from discolouring.
Mix all the remaining ingredients together in the pressure cooker, ensuring that the sugar has all dissolved.
Add the quince and place the lid onto the pressure cooker.
Bring up to pressure, then reduce the heat to just enough to keep the pressure constant.
Cook for some 20 minutes for ripe fruit, slightly longer for fruit that is not so ripe.
De-pressurise the cooker gently and remove the lid.
Test the fruit, which should be soft but still holding together.
Remove the fruit using a slotted spoon and place into a bowl. Remove the cardamom pods and include them in the bowl with the fruit.
Bring the cooking liquor up to a lively boil and cook until it is reduced by at least half and becomes syrupy. Taste the liquor before you begin to reduce it, then as it reduces, so that you will be able to choose when to stop the reduction.
Pour the syrup over the fruit and spice and leave to cool. The cardamom will continue to infuse the syrup with flavour, so it is up to you when you decide to remove the pods.
Serve at room temperature, with cream or Greek yoghurt.