Simple Poached Quince
One of the best and often under-utilized fall desserts or treats is poached fruit.
We’re taking a break from traditional fall staples today and changing things up with this delicious, simple Poached Quince recipe.
Fragrant, infused with spices, and tender once cooked, poached quince is a delicious treat to enjoy on its own, serve with yogurt or ice cream, or spoon on top of pancakes or waffles.
What Are Quince?
Quince are the fruit of the Cydonia oblonga tree. They are irregular in shape and taste like a cross between an apple and pear. However, they have a very distinctive, flowery aroma that is unlike either.
The fruit itself is very tough and gritty (use a large, sharp knife!) when raw, but softens and breaks down beautifully once cooked. It oxidizes quickly once sliced, so I recommend prepping it just before cooking.
While many recipes call for removing the peel, the tough skin softens considerably once cooked and becomes a non-issue if the fruit sliced thinly. If you are unsure, you can peel the skin with a vegetable peeler.
Quince Shopping Tips:
Quince season generally runs from September to December. They can be hard to find, but are often available at speciality supermarkets or farmer’s markets in season.
Look for large, mostly yellow (with minimal green) quince that are very firm and hard. Store at room temperature if using soon, or wrapped loosely in plastic in the refrigerator for up to two months.
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- Quince – the most important ingredient! See shopping tips above. If you can’t find quince, you can use this method and poaching liquid for other fruits, such as apples or pears.
- Honey and Granulated Sugar – similar to this Pear Frangipane Tart, we’ll use a ratio of 4:1 (liquid:sugar) for the poaching liquid. This recipe uses a combination of honey, for added flavor, and granulated sugar. You could substitute maple syrup if you like.
- Aromatics and Spices – to infuse the fruit with more flavor, we’ll add a cinnamon stick, whole cloves (it complements quince so well!), lemon peel, fresh ginger, and vanilla extract.
How to Poach Quince:
- See recipe box below for full instructions and quantities. Combine the water, honey, sugar, aromatics, and spices in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Chop Quince: Slice the quince in half lengthwise (the flesh is tough, so you will need a steady hand and large, sharp knife). Using a sturdy melon baller, remove and discard the core – or alternatively, cut the halves into quarters, and slice away the core with a paring knife. Place pieces cut-side down and cut into ¼-inch thick slices. Transfer the quince slices to the hot poaching liquid – they should be mostly submerged.
- Return the poaching liquid to a low simmer, covering the surface with a parchment round (instructions in recipe), and simmer, flipping the slices once or twice, for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. I recommend checking after 10 to 15 minutes and adjusting the time as needed.
- Cool the quince to room temperature in the poaching liquid. Serve or transfer to a large container – store slices in the poaching liquid for best flavor – and refrigerate for up to one week.
How to Serve Poached Quince
Like other poached or stewed fruit, poached quince can be enjoyed on its own or as a topping on yogurt, ice cream, pancakes, waffles, or oatmeal.
Have Leftover Poaching Liquid? Don’t Throw It Out!
Use it to poach more batches of fruit or reduce and as a simple syrup in cocktails or mocktails. It can also be reduced and thickened on the stovetop if you prefer. Store in a container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or freeze (and thaw in the fridge before using).
Simple Poached Quince
- 4-5 Quart Saucepan
- 3 cups (720 mL) cold water
- ½ cup (170g) liquid honey
- ¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
- 4 clove sticks optional
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 (2-inch) strips fresh lemon peel
- 1 piece fresh sliced ginger unpeeled
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- pinch kosher salt
- 2-3 quince (roughly 1½-1¾ lbs) see prep instructions below
- Make the Parchment Lid (Cartouche): Cut out/tear a piece of parchment only slightly larger than the diameter of the saucepan (4 to 5 quarts in size) used for poaching. Fold in half, then fold it in half once more. You will end up with a rough square of folded parchment. Fold the square into a triangle (bringing folded edge to folded edge). Repeat twice more, folding into an even smaller triangle. Roughly line up the tip of the triangle to the 'estimated' center of the saucepan and using scissors, cut the parchment following the curve on the sides of the cake pan with scissors. Unfold the parchment and set inside of the saucepan – it should cover the surface completely – slightly larger is preferable for this application. Set aside for later.
- Prepare Poaching Liquid: Combine the water, honey, sugar, cloves (if using), cinnamon stick, lemon peel, ginger, vanilla extract (or paste), and pinch salt in the saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat while you prepare the parchment lid (cartouche) and slice the quince.
- Note: For this recipe, we will not peel the quince. Once cooked, it is soft and perfectly edible. This also removes any extra prepping step, which is helpful as quince flesh oxidizes quickly.Chop Quince: Slice the quince in half lengthwise (the flesh of quince is tough, so you will need a steady hand and large, sharp knife). Using a sturdy melon baller, remove and discard the core – or alternatively, cut the halves into quarters, and slice away the core with a paring knife. Place pieces cut-side down and cut into ¼-inch thick slices. Transfer the quince slices to the hot poaching liquid – they should be mostly submerged.
- Poach the Quince: Return the poaching liquid to a very low simmer, covering the surface of the pot with the parchment round, and simmer the quince, flipping the slices once or twice, for 15 to 25 minutes or until tender. Total cook time will vary, so I recommend checking after 10 to 15 minutes and adjusting the time as needed. Remember that you will be cooling the sliced quince in the hot poaching liquid, so they will continue to cook as they sit.
- Cool the quince to room temperature in the poaching liquid. Serve or transfer to a large container – store in the poaching liquid for best flavor – and refrigerate for up to one week. Remove the spices, lemon peel, and ginger before serving. Poaching liquid can be used for poaching other fruit or as a simple syrup in cocktails, etc.
Ways to Use Leftover Poaching Liquid:
- Leftover poaching liquid poach more batches of fruit or use it as a simple syrup for cocktails or mocktails. It can also be reduced and thickened on the stovetop if you desire.
- Store in a container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or freeze (and thaw overnight in the fridge before using).