A while ago I found an old folder full of recipe magazine clippings. Another one. I swear, I’d need about 3 lifetimes to try all the recipes I’ve clipped, saved, bookmarked and filed away under “must try”. I have hundreds of magazines, all with little post-it’s sticking out to mark something I want to make. And of course I now have absolutely no recollection of what is actually in all my books, mags, folders and favourites lists. So it’s like I don’t even have them. But once in a while there will be one recipe that sticks in my mind and stays there till I buy the ingredients and get round to trying it out.
This happened when I found that old folder. Inside was a torn out page from a Sunday newspaper insert, with an article on quince. There were three recipes using this underestimated and underappreciated fruit, in very interesting sweet and savoury dishes.Here in Greece, practically the only way quince is used is in the traditional “Spoon Sweet”. Spoon sweet is basically fruit briefly cooked in obscene amounts of sugar and preserved in the resulting thick syrup. It’s called that because you (can) only eat one spoonful of it! To be fair it’s quite good stuff, it’s just really really sweet. The best way to enjoy it is with Greek yogurt, because that counteracts the sweetness perfectly and prevents the sugar comma you might fall into if not careful. There are many different types of spoon sweet like cherry, pear, apple, orange, grape, apricot, plum, and some weirder ones like carrot, courgette (zucchini) and baby aubergine (eggplant). And of course quince, which is probably one of the nicest.
Anyway. Since I’m supposed to be writing about chutney, I’ll stop going on about sweets! So. Quince chutney was one of the three recipes in that article. It immediately grabbed my attention, and stayed in my mind till a few days ago when I saw a crateful of the strange looking things in my local supermarket. They look like a cross between pears and apples! But they are tough little cookies to deal with. The flesh is very hard and they’re quite difficult to peel because of the many bumps and grooves. I’d recently seen this video on Food52 about peeling apples and thankfully remembered it, so I tried out the technique and it worked a treat. Quince may be very hard when raw (and definitely inedible) but it softens very quickly during cooking. And it must also absorb liquid as this thickened very quickly too. So make sure you cover the pan and turn the heat right down, so the flavours have enough time to mingle before it’s ready.
This is gorgeous with cheese. Try it with a fairly strong tasting variety as it’s very flavourful and the quince chunks are quite sweet. A mature cheddar or even smoked cheese would work fantastically. It’s also a good accompaniment to pork or cold deli meats. Like all chutneys it gets better with age, so let it rest for at least a few days before digging in.
Makes about 2-3 medium jars
1 lemon, juice of
1 ½ Tbs olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 Tbs raisins
1 Tbs dried cranberries
1 stick cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
200ml cider vinegar
150g soft brown sugar
Salt & pepper
- Fill a large bowl with water and add the lemon juice.
- Peel the quinces, cut into chunks and put them in the bowl with the lemon water (to keep them from browning – they brown very quickly). Leave for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and gently cook the onion until soft and translucent.
- Add the quinces, raisins, cranberries, cinnamon, vinegar and ginger. Sprinkle the sugar over the top. Mix gently and let it cook, covered, over very low heat for about 30 minutes. If you can, leave it longer, but be careful that the liquids aren’t all absorbed too quickly.
- Add salt and pepper (the recipe mentions adding this now. To be honest I think I completely forgot this stage, so I don’t know if it would be better added at the beginning with the rest of the ingredients. I also can’t say how much. I do know that none is fine, you can always season when serving!)
- Put into warm sterilized jars and leave to cool completely before placing in the fridge.
Other interesting chutneys from around the web:
Fig Chutney by David Lebovitz
Tomato Chutney by Liz the Chef
Apple Cranberry Chutney by Simply Recipes
Curried Apple Chutney by Local Kitchen
Green Bean Chutney by Chutney and Spice