Here in Sydney, May is our usual start for the rug up & chill for winter.
I’ve seen the first boxes of quince in the markets, so I’m itching to get a batch on to cook.
Quince have an amazing fragrance, so they are marvellous used as a centerpiece indoors, and will happily scent your dining area a week or so before cooking.
Cooking a large batch makes sense of your time, as they are quite laborious. Try 3-4 kilo for a good amount to be worth your time.

Quince are a part of the rose family, hence the perfume. Ripe when they are hard, choose unblemished bright golden yellow fruit. Find an hour or so, a strong knife and a robust chopping board to prepare these.
Start by rinsing in cold water and checking for worm holes. Fill a large pot or bowl with cold water, peel a lemon (keep this peel for the cooking process) and squeeze the juice to acidulate the water & prevent browning.
Cutting into quarters, remember quince are hard, harder than carrots, so a steady hand, and a cooks knife help. Once cut into halves, place the flat cut side flush on the chopping board for maximum safety. A small knife to peel the skin & pare out the centre pips, then slide into the lemon water. Once they are all prepared, drain and lay out on a roasting tray. Cover with 1 cup of sugar for each kilo of fruit. Add the lemon peel, and one split vanilla bean. Add water to 2 cm up to the side of the dish. Cover with baking paper and foil and slide into an oven set at 140 degrees. Cook for 4 hours, check that a sharp knife slides in easily and leave in the oven to cool (overnight is perfect).
When cool, spoon out carefully into clean glass jars and pour the gorgeous reddish blush syrup over the top. Keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Quince love hanging out with honey, vanilla, fortified wine, ham/bacon & pork, chicken & duck. Soft white cheese – ricotta, quark, mascarpone. On a cheese plate with your favourite blue, brie & cheddar. Rosemary, sage, thyme & lavender partner well, along with oranges, lemons & lime. For spices, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger & star anise all love to party with quince.

Use as-is for dessert with just made custard or cream. Lovely in a crumble, half half with granny smith apples and an oat crumble.
Try a sweet shortcrust tart case blind baked, add 1 cup of sliced cooked quince. Whisk 3 eggs with ⅓ cup of caster sugar, 300 grams of mascarpone & a splash of brandy. Pour this custard mix over the quince and bake for 30-35 minutes at 170 degrees, till the custard is just set. Cool and dust with icing sugar & cinnamon.
Add ½ a cup of cooked quince to the pan juices after cooking pork or chicken for a luscious sweet & savoury sauce with a few sage leaves or sprigs of rosemary.
For breakfast, they marry very well with thick yoghurt, baked into muffins,or added to raw grated apples & oats for a decadent bircher muesli.