Quinces are humbling. One of those old school fruits that remind me, that in a skirmish with Time, I shall never win.
I start out insanely desperate to cook with them. They’re in season for such a short Time. It has to be now. I scurry high and low, clamoring across the urban landscape to find ones that are just right; good size, nice peachy fuzz on the skin, good colour, but not too perfect. I want to do this quickly, I have many things on, but I invariably hop from fruit stall to fancy produce shop to over-priced department stall, not quite finding the ones I’m after. Time=1. Me=0.
Then I find them – or I compromise – and they sit regally in a glass fruit bowl or pretty oval platter and gleam smugly. For days.
They’re gnarly old bats to peel and chop so I have to wait for just the right moment. When I have Time. This is somehow trickier than it seems and I think of Time quietly smirking at the irony of my desperation to find the fruit that now veers quickly towards becoming a mound of mould in my fruit bowl. Time=2. Me=0
I scoop them up just before they’ve gone too far and plant them on my chopping board. They need to be peeled and chopped. But they’re tough and a bit slimy and my knife always seems to need sharpening but I never have Time to tend to it. They slip and slide across the wooden board and this whole farcical routine just takes up so much Time. Time=3. Me=0.
They’re in the pot, on low. They simmer and bubble and spit little puffs of perfume into the air. I make a cup of tea and stare out the window. I inhale deeply. After four hours…no, not four, they need a little more Time. Time=4. Me=0
After some Time, they are done. Only then, when I have relinquished my battle and declared Time the victor I remove the ruby red fleshy fillets and wonder at the way Time has enabled them to morph into something so luscious, so unctuous.
The perfect slow food mascot, I feel sure that quince would also be the fruit of choice for Buddha, Confucius and Kenny Rogers. There’s a lot of wisdom in those knobbly, arthritic ‘pears’.
- 1.2kg Quince
- 1/2 Cup Cider Vinegar
- 3 Cups Sugar
- 3 Cups water
- 15 cloves
- 3 cinnamon quills
- 20 cardamom pods (slightly crushed)
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 whole dried chillies (rehydrated)
- 1TBS Black peppercorns
- 1 Lemon. Rind only.
- 1. Peel, chop, throw in heavy bottomed pot.
- 2. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and pop the pan on a simmer mat.
- 3. Gently simmer for about four hours until they are a very ruby red colour. Don't get scared and take them off too early. Indulge Time and they’ll be more like a ruby and less like a rose.