Quinces are in season right now. As the cold weather slowly advances and trees delight us with ever changing hues of yellows and reds, it is time to start increasing cooked foods and warming spices and reduce the amount of raw food we’re eating.
In our household cold green smoothies breakfasts have given way to warming, spiced porridge or one of my favourites, paleo bircher muesli topped with warm quince ‘jam’.
Quinces are one of those unsung superfoods that not many people eat on a regular basis or have even tasted. They have a short growing season – March to end of May in Victoria – as well as the unfortunate appearance of looking like a cross between a golden delicious apple and a lumpy Packham pear but with fuzzy hair to boot.
However, far from being the latest super-food on the block, quince has a long history of culinary use. The ancient Greeks held it sacred to Aphrodite, the goddess of love, while the Romans used to call it ‘honey apple’ in reference to the honey preserve that made this fruit popular at the time.
One could say that quince is the quintessential autumn fruit. As it must be cooked to be enjoyed (its high tannin content gives it a distinct sour-bitter taste that is bound to put off even the most hardcore raw-foodist) it forces one to to slow down and appreciate that it’s getting cold outside.
From a nutritional point of view, quince is very high in polyphenols, which, together with the high tannin content, make this a fantastic digestive rebalancer. It is high in fibre and has good amounts of vitamin C.
But perhaps, the most indulgent aspect of this forgotten fruit is the rose-like scent it releases during cooking as well as the amazing ability to change its colour from yellow to pink/orange once cooked.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to include this seasonal fruit in your diet, try this amazing breakfast recipe by Naturopath Dawn Whitten from Goulds Naturopathica in Hobart.
Saffron Quince and Brazil Nut Crumble
To be stewed
- 2 medium quince chopped with skin and core
- 4 medium apples chopped with skin without core
- ½ cup of filtered water
- 8 saffron threads crushed on a tablespoon
- 2 cloves
- 1 small cinnamon quill
- ¼ to ½ cup of berries: blackberries, blueberries, black currants and or raspberries (frozen or fresh) to be added last
- 8 Brazil nuts chopped
- 12 Almonds chopped
- 2½ Tablespoons of coconut shredded and sulphur free
- 4-6 Tablespoons of ground flaxseeds
- 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds
Step 1: In a saucepan combine all of the ingredients in the “to be stewed” list and simmer on low heat with lid on until the quince is lovely and soft (about 40 minutes). Stir occasionally.
Step 2: Turn the heat off and stir in berries. Meanwhile combine topping ingredients in a bowl.
Step 3: Serve stewed fruit in bowls and generously top with dry ingredients.
Variation: Add 1 chopped date to the stewing mix to increase the sweetness of the dish.
Alan Davidson, 2006. The Oxford Companion to Food 2nd Ed. 2nd Edition. Oxford University