"There are four kinds of wisdom ... giving, kind speech, beneficial deeds, and cooperation."

Thursday, November 04, 2021

Some days

I mentioned there are quinces this year. 

We have five young trees, interspersed among the apple, cherry, fig, peach, pear, mulberry and plum trees. Like the peaches, they're vulnerable to a serious freeze. Decades ago there were a number of quince orchards in our area, and a freeze came along and shut them down. 

Taken in a heavy downpour
 Many trees currently producing, such as ours, were cut from rooted suckers around the stumps of dead orchard trees and passed from hand to hand till they found a home. Ours are third generation, a gift from a friend.

Picked a little too green but they did okay
So, we've had maybe our second good crop, four flats full. I have off and on looked at the recipes for the use of these rather imposing, hard, fuzzy yet intriguingly pineapple-y fruits, and there seems to be a consensus that they are worth making a jam of, called membrillo, but that peeling them is a bit dangerous. Too slick. Knives skip all over. Some have had luck baking them for 20 minutes and then peeling them. I tried that and was not all that pleased with it.

Happily, I've discovered the apple peeler/corer/slicer will handle them -- best after they do indeed turn yellow. You'll need the patience to wait for the ripening turn, and the attentiveness to get to them then in the narrow window before rot starts. Also, the current manufacturers of peeler/corer/slicers seem to insist on offering mainly the suction-cup variety. I'd hold out for one with a clamp base, especially if you're going to try quince on it.


 This is an older photo, and shows an apple being peeled, sliced and cored. Nowadays the little machine lives in the potting shed and is not only clamped in place but screws help it to stay put.

If your quince is too green you will feel a graininess as you turn the handle. The yellow ones will give you less resistance, though they are more work than apples. Also, seeds radiate farther from the center of the core than with apples and escapees should be found and picked out.

I quarter the spirals on the chopping block and load them into the slow cooker, perhaps with some apples if there are not enough quince ripe at the time. Depending on your preferences and health concerns, you may add a little salt, say a quarter cup of sugar, some ginger, and a capful or more of lime or lemon juice.

 Cook on high until the result pleases you. My cooker makes a chunky quince butter in about three hours, which is what I want, so I've never made it all the way to a membrillo. Load into jars and water bath can.

I love this stuff -- not everyone will. Try it with yogurt, or oatmeal, on pancakes, as an alternative pb&j, or as a substitute for apple in apple cake recipes.

My discovery that my slicer can handle quinces certainly made my day. About as much as one can hope for, some days.


Should I try to grow all the food my family and I require? If I tried to do so, I probably could do little else. And what about all the other things we need? Should I try to become a Jack of all trades? At most of these trades I would be pretty incompetent and horribly inefficient. But to grow or make some things by myself, for myself: what fun, what exhilaration, what liberation from any feelings of utter dependence on organizations! What is perhaps even more: what an education of the real person! To be in touch with actual processes of creation.-- E.F. Schumacher


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Stony Run Farm: Life on One Acre