This spiced quince compote recipe is one of the best ways there is to use this unusual pear-shaped fruit. If you're looking for an easy quince recipe to make then give this one a try.
What is quince?
A quince is a pear-shaped fruit that grows on a quince tree. Quince trees are part of the same family as apples and pears but quinces are quite distinct from their more common relatives. The quince fruit is green while it's growing but turns a golden yellow colour when ripe. It's flesh is quite hard and it has quite large seeds inside. If eaten in large quantities these seeds can be toxic. Read more about quinces on Wikipedia.
Quinces have been used historically in cooking for many years but you don't see them very much nowadays. I definitely get the sense that people don't really know what to cook with them any more and to be honest I don't remember ever seeing them for sale anywhere. Just last week an email went out on our neighbourhood forum offering a large number of free quinces from someone's tree in their garden. I definitely got the feeling that they were keen to get rid of them!
I ended up with a batch of quinces when a work colleague of my husband brought some in for me from her mother's garden. They sat looking at me in the fruit bowl for a few days while I decided what to make - I decided that an easy quince compote was a good idea for my first foray into cooking with quinces.
What can you cook with quince?
This is the first time I've cooked with quince - in fact I've always been a bit reluctant to eat it since trying membrillo in Argentina about a decade ago. Membrillo is a hard paste, which is red in colour. It's sometimes called quince cheese and it is often served with a cheese course. I was not keen on the texture and it's not something I'm keen to try again! Check out this quince cheese recipe by River Cottage if you're tempted.
Jamie Oliver has a few quince recipes online (not veggie) as does Nigel Slater in The Guardian. But on the whole the internet is fairly bereft of quince recipes - especially vegan and vegetarian ones. See below for more quince recipes.
How to make quince compote?
It's quite simple to make quince compote and I found that it didn't need as much sugar or as long a cooking time as many recipes suggested. This will of course depend on how ripe your quinces are and how sweet you like your food so adjust sugar and cooking times accordingly.
One thing that it's worth noting about quince is that it browns very quickly so get your bowl of lemon water ready before you start peeling and chopping. I also found that the quince stained my chopping board so be aware of this and don't use your favourite brand new board!
Quince compote is really good with porridge (oatmeal) for breakfast. You can mix it with apples before cooking if you like.
Spiced quince compote
- 3 quinces peeled, cored and chopped
- 200 ml water
- 1 lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 3 cardamon pods
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tbsp maple syrup or more if you prefer a sweeter taste
- 100 ml water
- Squeeze the lemon into the 200ml water and place the prepared quinces in the lemon water immediately to prevent them from browning.
- When ready to cook drain and rinse the quinces and place in a medium saucepan with the spices, maple syrup and 100ml water.
- Bring to the boil then cover and cook over a low heat for 20-30 minutes until the quince are soft.
- Remove the whole spices and serve warm either on their own, alongside a savoury dish or with porridge for breakfast.
Why not try this for breakfast with my vegan granola?
Other quince recipes
Quince and apple sponge crumble by Family Friends Food (vegetarian)
Quince jelly by Honest Mum
Vanilla poached quince by David Lebovitz (vegan)
Pickled quinces by Diana Henry (vegan)
Quince chutney by Seasonal Cook in Turkey (vegan)
Quince jam by Abel and Cole (vegan)