I hope you all had a good weekend, whether working, playing, resting, drinking, eating, or any of the other possibilities. It rained heavily here for most of yesterday, which gave us the perfect excuse to get cosy indoors with Judy Delpy, Bill Murray, and a spiced roast with lots and lots of sides. And when an unexpected touch of cabin fever did set in, the clouds miraculously parted and the sunshine beamed, drying up the beach up so that we could go and have a ten minute break, gazing at the waves.
One of the things that sat at our Sunday lunch table was a little bowl containing slices of pickled quince. A big display of the appealing, bright yellow fruit has been brightening up the produce section at the grocery shop up the road from us for a couple of weeks, and after a couple of gentle hints from B, we finally took home a bagful. I’ve got intentions to use some of them in a dessert, but I also wanted to try pickling a couple. I love pickley flavours, and I thought that the flesh of the quince would make an excellent carrier. Extremely solid when raw, but meltingly soft once cooked, quince is a bit of a fruity sensation in my book. Its flavour is more subtle than you might think, considering the fragrance, which can sway towards tutti-fruitti, and the colour, which peaks at neon. I looked at a couple of recipes, and ended up being most influenced by Nigel Slaters’, but I went easier on the sugar and heavier on the spices. The result, sharp and aromatic, may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was good for me, especially well matched to cut through some rich, fatty meat or a bit of flavoursome cheese.
2 large quince (about 450g or so), peeled, cored, and cut into wedges
400ml cider vinegar
150g golden caster sugar
10g dried cranberries
10 juniper berries
10 black peppercorns, bashed a little with a pestle & mortar
15 allspice berries
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods
Bring the vinegar, sugar, and spices to the boil, then reduce heat and chuck in the cranberries and quince slices. Simmer for about thirty minutes, or until tender, then pour into sterilised jars.