Words by Eleanor Hilley
I’d not even heard of the fruit until one day when my grandfather asked me if I’d ever bitten into one. It’s an old southern fruit which apparently has fallen under the radar of familiarity over the years, but luckily, grandpa has a quince tree that grows on his land near the peach trees, and he plucked one and handed it to me. It was too hard to sink my teeth into, so I had to use his pocket knife to cut out a slice.
I swear my mouth turned inside-out on itself. He laughed. I didn’t laugh.
The texture is much like an apple, or a pear. It’s a bit harder, but the meat is very similar. The bitterness, however, is unreal. It’s not naturally sweet at all, but don’t let that turn you away-this fruit makes the most delicious jelly (no secret recipe, it’s made like any other jelly), and when properly prepared, is surprisingly satisfying by the slice— considering what we know it to taste like off the tree.
My grandmother instructed me as to how to properly eat a quince, and now I will share my learnings with you. As far as I know, this is the only tolerable way to eat a quince by the slice:
Slice the quince as you would an apple, and in a medium sized bowl, layer the slices across the bottom, trying to keep them as close to the base of the bowl as possible.
Afterwards, cover them in white sugar, and cover the bowl with aluminum foil.
Put the bowl in the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least* 24 hours before opening.
By this time, the sugar will have combined with the quince juice to make a syrup, and the fruit has had enough time to soak up the sugar syrup, making it more than bearable, delicious even**.
*the longer you allow it to sit, the sweeter it will become. In my opinion, the third day’s the charm.