The distinctive and heady scent of quince transports me instantly to childhood and my grandmother's kitchen in 1950s Oxford. She used to make a delicious jam from fruit given to her by a neighbour, and it was a long job cutting the hard fruit into tiny cubes.
We have a quince in our garden, planted about 25 years ago by my mother-in-law, who used to put a few slices of poached quince into her stewed apple, rather in the way you might add a couple of cloves.
I make quince jam and jelly regularly, and this year, for the first time, I'm making quince liqueur - not to drink (although it's perfectly drinkable), but to use in my cooking throughout next year. It was a quick job, thanks to the Magimix, which made very short work of grating the fruit. I used Jane Grigson's recipe from her Fruit Book.
a one-litre preserving jar
60g caster sugar
about 600 ml vodka
Wipe the fluff from the quince with a dry cloth. Cut them in half so that they will fit into the feeder tube of the Magimix. Grate - yes, really, the whole fruit, skin, pips and all. The scented fruit will more or less fill your jar. Add the sugar, then the vodka, making sure that all the fruit is covered. Seal. Put in a dark place for a couple of months - there's no need to turn it.
This will need straining in December or January, at which point more sugar could be added. And then it will add a useful flavouring note to savoury as well as sweet dishes; quince is not only distinctive, it is also very strong - one quince on the kitchen table can scent a whole house.
Friday flowers - Jonquils and silver, J.D. Fergusson, 1905. The Fergusson exhibition in the Scottish National Galleries' Scottish Colourist Series opens in Edinburgh tomorrow...
2 days ago