The writing’s on the quince

I admit it seemed a shame to cut this baby up and transform it into something — the scratches looked like Lord of the Ring style  runes, and I did admit to questions about what this particular quince was trying to tell me. But I was in New Zealand for a reason (biking, and visiting friends), and what better way to pass the non-biking time than taking advantage of harvest season. Friend was working for the morning — she’s learning Maori and it was homework time — so I delved into her big collection of recipes and picked an easy looking quince chutney, which I proceeded to change beyond recognition.

To backtrack, I have a very soft spot for quinces, even though you can’t eat them raw. It’s an acquired, slightly musty taste that reminds me of my childhood, where we had a prolific quince tree in a corner of the warm, walled-in back garden, and they are rare enough in Canada that they feel sort of exotic. Quinces price out at up to $3 each in Toronto, if you can get them at all. New Zealand friend, a childhood friend for that matter, has two trees groaning down with them. I didn’t think Canadian customs would like it if I tried to take the quinces back, but maybe I could manage a jar of chutney.

For the first time, on friend’s advice, I didn’t actually peel the quince. You rub off the fuzz, and chop and core the fruit. I upped the ginger and added vast quantities of both vinegar and water (the original recipe seemed to have almost none of either) and then threw in a chopped-up onion because the original recipe seemed too quince focused.

And the finished product?

Ginger quince chutney (adapted from a random newspaper cutting and cooked in New Zealand)

4 cups chopped, cored quince
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup currants
1/3 cup grated ginger
1 cup cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 cup chopped onion

Wipe the fuzz off the quince before chopping and coring it. Put all the ingredients into a large pan, heat gently until the sugar dissolves, and then simmer for about 30 minutes until it’s golden yellow and chutney-thick.

Bottle in sterilized jars.

It’s really rather nice.


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