How to freeze quinces

Quinces. Photo Maria Fremlin

Over the years I've been improving and simplifying the way of preserving our invariably good quince crop, which can keep me busy for about three weeks in October, see some above. Below is my easiest method of dealing with this rock hard fruit, which involves no peeling and no cutting!
Alternatively, quinces can be frozen directly from the tree and then processed the same way.

Wash the quinces, remove any rotten bits and rub away the down from the skin. Then put the quinces in a pan and barely cover them with cold water. From now on regulate the heat so that the water comes slowly to the boil and the fruit barely simmers. Depending on the heat I do this for 1 or 2 hours or until they start showing signs of softening. With my quinces, Meech's Prolific, I stop when the skins start splitting or else they quickly disintegrate, which must not happen. So whatever you do watch them while they very, very gently simmer away and remove them from the heat when softened but still whole. At this stage I leave them to cool in the pan until next day.

When cool lift the quinces from the cooking water and, if you are short of time, pop them in the freezer as they are. Or else quarter them and remove the cores, this can now be done almost effortlessly compared with the raw fruit. The cores must go back to the pan for jelly making; just boil them for a while and then strain for basic jelly making. Open freeze all the quartered pieces on a tray. Then bag them the next day. For jam making just weigh the quarters and add equal amount of sugar. When set this is very thick stuff and can be spread on trays and left to dry in the airing cupboard. Then cut in squares for the most delicious Xmas presents.

Frozen quinces can be used in savoury and sweet dishes alike. Just take them out of the freezer and pop them as they are in a hot oven alongside your roast or else seasoned with honey for a scrumptious dessert. They cook surprisingly quick from frozen, either whole or quartered.

Maria Fremlin, 19 January 2015