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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Quince the golden apple

The quince is believed to have come long before the apple. In many instances in ancient history the mentioning of apples were, in fact quince. One of this instance is said to be the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.

In Greek mythology the quince is linked with the goddess of love Aphrodite. And in fact it is said that Paris awarded her a quince and not a golden apple.

Ancient Greeks linked the quince with fertility. It's was a exceptional gift offering in wedding celebrations. The bride would nibble a quince to perfume her kiss before entering the bridal chamber. This was done "in order for the first greeting to not be disagreeable nor unpleasant". Associations like these are what have given the quince the reputation of being the "fruit of love, marriage and fertility."

Most varieties of quinces are ripe and ready for eating in late autumn. They are hard, sour, and astringent to eat raw, but once cooked and sweetened they turn a luscious red and taste divine.

Quinces are used to make marmalade, spoon sweets, pies and jellies (they have a lot of natural pectin), or they may be peeled, then roasted, baked or stewed. In Greece as well as most Mediterranean countries have favorite pork dishes with quince, as well as lamb, turkey and duck. Quinces can also be baked in the same way we bake apples.

Quince spoon sweet

4 cups

2 pounds quinces,peeled cored and cut into 1/4 inch dice
2 2/3 cups cold water
6 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbs inverted sugar

Combine quince cinnamon and water in large saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until quince is tender, about 6-10 minutes depending on ripeness of fruit. Reduce heat to low, add sugar and cook until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until syrup thickens and coats back of metal spoon, scraping off any froth that accumulates on surface and reducing heat to medium if necessary to prevent boiling over, about 45 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and inverted sugar. Continue cooking until thermometer registers 234 degrees F (soft ball stage) about 20 minutes. Cool completely. Transfer to sterilized jars and seal.

The spoon sweet is offered with a glass of chilled water to visitors as a symbol of hospitality. You can also spread it on toast or serve it with a cheese platter. Spoon it over ice cream or thick Greek yogurt.



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