When I lived in Australia, one of the most delicious condiments readily available was Quince Paste. It is simply divine paired with a sharp goat’s or sheep’s cheese – soft or hard – served with home made crackers, or as a flavouring paste to accompany a lamb or duck dish. It is one of those artisan products that is difficult to source and expensive to buy. And what’s worst, it is absolutely laden with sugar.
In this country, it is rare to see quince in the shops, but my local health food store had a batch in the other day, so I bought a kilo to see if I could make a sugar-free version. The result was an unctuously delicious condiment entirely in keeping with the anti-CanSur Budwig Protocol.
A member of the same family as pears and apples, quince is considered ripe when yellow.
Like avocados, they have to be picked just before they are ripe from the tree, so some are sold whilst still green. Fallen quinces tend to be overripe, something to consider if a neighbour gives you a basketful. However if the quinces are still a little green that is fine for this recipe. If very green, let them ripen a little before use. Put into a bowl with a banana. Bananas release ethylene and this helps speed up the process.
Making a quince and date paste is a labour of love, but its bejewelled russet gorgeousness is an autumnal treat to serve in the depths of winter or as part of the Christmas table cheese board with a handful of shelled walnuts. Traditionally, the paste should be thick enough to cut, not to spoon, but I like mine to be a little spreadable, so it is up to you how far you boil off the water.
This recipe makes about 2 cups. Set a morning aside to make this, and double up the recipe for Christmas gifts. The paste will last for months in the fridge, and its flavour develops beautifully over time.
1 kilo quince. It does not matter if they are slightly under ripe.
Approx 300g organic date syrup
6 star anise
10 crushed juniper berries
4 crushed green cardamom
small cinnamon quill
1 tsp vanilla powder
1 – 2 lemons
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
sterilised kilner jars
1. Wash the quince and roughly remove any velvet ‘fur’ on the skin. Cut the quince into small chunks, trimming off and discarding the stem and the navel of the quince. Do not peel, and do not discard the seeds as this will add a beautiful russet colour to the paste. Be careful, quince flesh is surprisingly tough to cut. They are not soft and juicy like pears.
2. Put into a pan and add just enough water to cover. Add the star anise, juniper, cinnamon quill, cardamom and vanilla powder together with the juice of one lemon. Cook down until the quince is soft, stirring occasionally and add more water if it dries out. This should take around 2 hours.
3. Once the quince is cooked down, remove the aromatics and push through a sieve until you have thick puree. This is the fiddle stage.
4. Place the puree into a saucepan and add about 300g organic date syrup and the juice of half a lemon and the salt. You want it tangy but sweet. Use your discretion and add more date paste until you get the sweetness you want and sharpen with more lemon juice.
5. On a low heat constantly stir the paste until it is thickened. This should take around 10 - 15 minutes. You will know when the right consistency is achieved because it will pull away from the edges and the wooden spoon will leave a track through the paste.
6. Pour the paste into several small sterilised kilner jars, cool and refrigerate. The paste will gel overnight. If it is still a little too runny, remove from the jars and reheat again until thickened.
** Healing Intent: when cooking and preparing foods to heal the body it is important to set your intent. The best way to do this is imagine that you are cooking this dish for yourself or for someone you love who is very ill and that this dish is the only thing that will help in their healing. You will find that the way you handle the food will change, and will not only result in a better dish, but you will feel the food actually nourishing your body and spirit.