Quince is a Fall fruit but one that is not edible raw. Despite being related to apple and pear family, it is a tough fruit with a knobby shape. The unripe fruit is mostly covered with a gray fuzz that can be washed away. The ripe quince has a golden yellow appearance but still has a sharp tart taste. But these features do not exclude it from delicious dish. It can be cooked in stews but most people cook it with sugary or spicy syrups for tarts, jams, and other desserts.
Some fun medicinal facts about quince:
Quince is an ancient fruit and has been regarded for its medicinal use. Like many other fruits in the Fall, it alleviates common colds by steaming the fruit. It is also known to help with digestive disorders due to high fiber content. The seeds can be soaked in warm water to extract the gel-like substance which is very practical in soothing hoarse coughs. The seeds contain a minimal amount of cyanide which according to many reports is not dangerous to humans unless ingested in large amounts.
In some Middle Eastern countries, it is believed that consuming quince will prohibit miscarriage in pregnant women and will make the baby beautiful. It is packed with vitamins C, A, B, and minerals like copper and zinc which promote skin health.
Prep time: 10 min.
Cooking time: 3+ hrs. Level: Intermediate
2 lbs. quince (about 4-5 large quinces)
3 ¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cinnamon stick
½ teaspoon green cardamom seeds (about 7-8 cardamom pods)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6-7 cups water
1- Place water and sugar in a deep pot over high heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat to medium and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
2- While the syrup is in making, wash the quinces to remove the gray fuzzy lining. Then slice the quinces to your liking without peeling them. Most often the fruit is cubed for the ease of storage in glass jars. If using it as a garnish for desserts, it can also be cut into slices for better presentation. I have seen few grated quince jams as well. But the jam is truly mouthful when you can really feel the flesh of the fruit in each bite. So, my suggestion is either cubing or slicing.
Bear in mind that despite its apple-pear like look, quince is a harder fruit to cut. Be cautious when cutting the fruit. Cutting around the core will be helpful so as to preserve the seeds for later use. Add the cut fruit to the syrup along with cardamom seeds and cinnamon stick. Put the lid on and lower the heat, allowing the quince to cook and become soft.
3- Occasionally check on the jam to measure the thickness of the syrup. The longer you allow the quince to cook, the deeper the color will be. However, it is important to not let all the syrup to evaporate. This will likely turn it into a hardened sugared quince pieces rather than a nice softly cooked quince jam.
4- Place the quince seeds in a mesh bag and leave it in the pot. The seeds give out a gel-like substance that helps with thickening of the syrup as well.
5- The jam used to be cooked in copper pots which was believed to lend a beautiful amber color to the jam. If you have one, go ahead and try it. Otherwise, wrap a heavy-duty kitchen cloth around the lid and cover the pot. This will prevent the droplets from getting back in the jam which could cause the jam to go bad if stored for a long period of time. It also helps set the color for the
6- After about 3 hours, the jam should be ready. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the jam 5 minutes before turning off the heat. The lemon juice acts like pectin; keeps the jam fresh and prevents it from going bad. Make sure to remove the cinnamon stick. Let the jam cool off in the pot with the cover on. This will also help with deepening the color. Noosh-e jān!