Quinces, coings, are a very French thing. In Creuse, every country garden has at least one quince tree and quince jelly, gelée aux coings, is turned out with great enthusiasm by many people every year. On our daily bike rides, we’ve picked up a few. Here’s a monster we got the other day. I reckon it weighs about a pound. (Since Caiti, the Chef in Wellies, recently made the transition to American cup-based cooking, I haven’t bothered replacing the last set of broken scales. I estimate quantities for my cooking, while Caiti painstakingly measures hers out in portions of cups! So, that’s why I can’t accurately weigh the quince.)
Quinces, like medlars that I blogged about recently, have to be bletted i.e. allowed to rot, before they’re pleasant to eat raw. They’re too hard and astringent otherwise. I do not fancy eating rotten fruit, so I’ll be cooking mine. You can stew them, like apples, but they need a good long cooking time, and interestingly will turn red in the process. And I bet you didn’t know that the word ‘marmalade’ originally meant quince jam, coming from the Portuguese for quince, which is marmelo. Quinces go back a long way, and it’s likely people grew them before they began to grow the more familiar fruit we know today, like apples and pears.
Quinces grow well in central and southern France because of the warm summers. They’re tough and are frost resistant, and in fact need a cold spell to flower properly. That’s why they do so well round here!
I’m fascinated by these large, knobbly pear-shaped fruits. I have three young trees in my garden and hope that we’ll be producing our own in another year or so. Until then, we’ll carrying on gleaning. I also now have my own tiny medlar plant. It will spend the winter in the polytunnel and we’ll plant it out in spring.
We lit the first fire of the autumn today. It was decidedly chilly in the living room when we got up so time to start burning things. One of Ruadhri’s briquettes went on and helped get the flames roaring into life.
So, autumn is well and truly here now …