Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Where's that runcible spoon?

Yes, once again it's QUINCE TIME!

I was wandering through the Asian food mart and ran upon a couple of quinces, picked them up... then made the mistake of smelling them, and was doomed.  The only fruit with a more tantalizing smell is ripe nectarine.  Quinces, at least this variety, have a scent somewhere between an apple, a pear and a pineapple, with a little extra something that says "Cook me!  Cook me now!"

So I did as I was bid, and am now cooking up some golden apples of the sun.  It's been too long since the last time we had them.

Quinces aren't as popular as they used to be because, unlike their cousins (apples and pears), they are chock fulla tannins and have to be cooked thoroughly before consumption.  I took them home, cored and pared them, cut them into slices...

...and they're now slowly poaching in water.  As they continue to cook, they change color from white to golden to pink to red.  Something to sweeten it, probably Truvia and maybe a teaspoon of actual sugar... then some spices like cinnamon and vanilla... mm-hmm, you know it.

Many other forgotten fruits exist, which used to be hugely popular in their day.  Ever hear of medlars?  (They must be bletted -- essentially, a controlled rot -- before they can be eaten.)   How about mayhaws?  They're supposed to be a Southern delicacy; I've never even seen one in person, let alone had a chance to eat them or anything made from them.  Damson plums are still popular in the UK and Europe but are nearly unknown in the United States (we're missing out -- they're delicious).  Most Americans who don't live near its natural growing zone have never tasted a pawpaw, because they're rarely cultivated.  There are azarole trees growing around the Mediterranean, but until yesterday I'd never even heard of them.

So what's your favorite little-known fruit?  (You may say "quince," but you can't have mine.  Sorry.  Om nom nom nom.)

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