This is the third of four different apple sauces in English Food. I have had to wait to cook this one as it requires a quince.
Quince are an ancient fruit, related to apples and pears, that is not seen around too much these days as they have fallen out of favour somewhat and also have a very short season. They have also suffered because of the terrible wet weather we’ve had this year.
Apple sauce should not be reserved just for roast pork, by the way, use it with sausages, black pudding, chicken, turkey, goose or game. It is a surprisingly versatile condiment.
Chop up 8 ounces of Bramley’s seedling apples (those in North America, use Mackintosh apples) and slice one ‘small or moderate quince’. You don’t need to peel or core the fruit, but I would scrub off the naturally-occurring fluff from the skin of the quince, should it have some. Place in a pan along with ¼ pint of water, a heaped tablespoon of sugar (omit if using Mackintosh apples) and a pared strip of lemon peel. Cover and simmer until a puply, then pass through a sieve or mouli-legumes to remove peel &c.
Put back on the heat and stir until it thickens up; you don’t want it ‘sloppy and wet’ as Griggers says. Stir in one ounce of butter and give the finished sauce a healthy seasoning of black pepper.
#360 Apple Sauce I. I liked this one very much and ate it with some rabbit which it complemented very well. The quince mellowed the Bramley’s, making them much less tart. Tres bon. 7.5/10.
“Your old virginity is like one of our French withered pears: it looks ill, it eats dryly.” Bertram, As You Like It
What a great quote. Shakespeare was such a bitch.
This is an old, old recipe that Griggers herself has updated rather. In Medieval times a variety of pear called Wardens were used that were rock hard and required an hour’s cooking beforehand. These days, we use eating pears so it’s a lot quicker to make. It is best though to use unripe pears for this, though it doesn’t really matter what kind.
I chose to do this recipe as the dessert to a vegan meal I cooked with my good friends Danny and Eric. I was quite surprised that there was anything vegan in the book! In fact, of the remaining desserts this was the only one.
A some of you may know, one of my gripes is picky eaters. Vegetarianism and veganism don’t come under that term ofr me though. I think making a moral stance against eating animals or using the products of animals certainly has a lots of merit. Not eating honey is a bit stupid though. Anyway, what IS annoying is veggies who ARE picky. I mean, what is the point of restricting your diet if you don’t like most stuff anyway. Luckily noone fell into that category this night!
It’s an easy recipe that can be done well in advance.
Start by peeling, halving and coring the pears – you will need one per person according to Jane. Pop them in a pan in a single layer and pour over enough red wine to cover them. Add too, two tablespoons of sugar, a cinnamon stick and a good pinch of ground ginger. Cover them and bring to a simmer until they are nice and tender. This takes a good 25 minutes, but the time will depend on the variety and ripeness of the pears used. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and keep warm whilst you boil down the wine until you get a nice slightly syrupy sauce. Add more sugar if you like. Pour over the pears and allow to cool. No need to serve anything else with them.
[If you don’t want to use wine, it can be adapted – swap the wine for water and the cinnamon for a split vanilla pod and add one sliced quince for every two pears cooked. Cook the fruit slowly to achieve a honey scented deep red sauce.]
#275 Pears in Syrup. This was a really good dessert. I’d actually put this one off because I expected to dislike it, but was totally wrong. The concentrated red wine sauce wasn’t heavy or sickly like I thought it would be, but light and refreshing. It must have been the pears and the spices that lightened the whole affair. That said, we could only manage half a pear each. The pudding looked quite impressive too with the dark, almost indigo sauce and the creamy-white pear flesh inside. Great stuff. 8/10.
The quinces I bought the other day were beginning to look a bit sad and I needed to use them up with something. I really like quince, so quince jelly was the obvious choice – making a few jars of this would mean I would still be eating them way beyond their season had ended.
By the way, this recipe can be followed as is but with medlars, sorbs or crab apples, so if you are lucky enough to know where their might be some growing near you try this jelly.
Begin by scrubbing clean your quinces and chop them roughly along with the same weight in Bramley apples. Do not peel or core them – that is where the pectin resides that will set the jelly. Place the fruit in a pan and barely cover them with water. Simmer the fruit until they have become a pulp (I used a potato masher to help the quinces along).
Place the pulp in a jelly bag suspended over a bowl – if you don’t have one, use a muslin-lined sieve instead. Leave the pulp to drip dry – this takes a while, a few hours at least, overnight if you’ve done loads. Measure the volume of liquid and pour into a heavy-based pan and add a pound of sugar for every pint of liquid. Boil this mixture until this has reached setting point (read the recipe for marmalade
for more info on this) and pour into sterilised jars.
Quince jelly can be used like any fruit jelly, but is typically an accompaniment to cheeses, game and turkey.
#114 Quince Jelly – 6.5/10. A nice conserve, but I perhaps more apple than I should have, as the quince flavour is not super strong and is sweeter than I’m used to. That said, I used as jam and I think it’ll be a lot better with some game or cheese. Also, the recipe’s very good as I got four jars of jelly from just two quince!
I went into Unicorn in Chorlton, Manchester to stock up on my favourite seasonal fruit and vegetables – this time of year they are quince, Jerusalem artichokes and Seville oranges. Once I’d bought them, it was a quick trawl through the book to see what I could do with them. The one recipe that didn’t require me to buy anything extra, other than was in my store cupboard, was quince comfits; all they need is water and sugar.
FYI: A comfit is a sugary sweet, rather like a pastille, that go way back In fact, quince comfits were made as part as Henry IV’s coronation banquet in 1399. This is a fact that I’m still in awe of. Get some made if you find some quinces and have a rare medieval treat!
Scrub the fluffy stuff that coats the quince’s skins, wash them thoroughly, and chop roughly. Put them in a pan with around an inch of water and simmer them, covered, until they are very soft. This takes a while as they are so hard, so keep a check on them and add extra water if need be to prevent them boiling dry. Once they are very soft, pass them through a sieve and weigh the pulp. Return it to the pan and add an equal weight of sugar. Bring it to the boil and allow to simmer, pop and bubble for up to half an hour. Make sure you stir it often to prevent it catching. It is ready when the mixture comes away from the sides as you stir. Pour the mixture into Swiss roll tins or sandwich tins that have been lined with greaseproof paper. Now you have to be patient – the mixture has to be dried slowly in a very low oven (less than 50ºC) or in the airing cupboard for a few days. Cut it into squares and shake the sweets in a tub of caster sugar to coat them. Hey Presto: Medieval sweets!
Griggers reckons they’re really good melted on grilled pork chops.
#109 Quince Comfits
– 7/10. I love quince. I think they’re my second favourite fruit after the raspberry. Their wonderfully perfumed toffee flavour really does come across in these little sweets. I don’t really go for sweets like this usually, but these are good and have the added interest of being eaten by a medieval king!
The quince vodka, now named “Quodka” has now been officially drunk, as were we after drinking it. We tried it with apple juice, but was too overpowering; but then we had it with tonic and it was lovely! I’m usually not a big fan of tonic water in drinks, but the sweet, subtle perfumed quince made it a very delicious drink. In fact, it may have been too delicious as we all necked it pretty quick – much quicker than if it was a strong normal voddie. Anyways, we all got even more pissed out in Manchester at Bollox, which by the way is totally brilliant!
#20 Quince vodka – a healthy 7/10. It was very nice and I shall make some if I have any spare next year
My second quince recipe. All very easy. Grate two Quinces. Put in a 1 litre jar along with 2 ounces of sugar. Top up with vodka. Leave for 2 months. I have no idea what it’ll be like. I’ll do a more throrough report in February!
Re the quince vodka, I will update you on it’s progress weekly as I will be unable to keep my ahnds off the jar for 2 months. Also, I am probably shortly retiring from Grigson life, partly because I can’t fit into my Levi drainpipes any more and partly because the veggie selection is drying up. Carnivores, it’s over to you . . .