‘Kidonia’, quinces, are a beautiful fruit. They can even be used just for decoration, and really bring a space to life! In the kitchen they are a cook's paradise in Autumn and right through the winter when they are in season.
In some countries in the middle ages quinces were the best confectionery ingredient and quince jam was a most welcome gift.
We also come across many Roman recipes that use quinces. Boiled or roasted, cooked with meat or served as a side dish to meat.
Quinces are large, pear shaped, and yellowish, with a very elegant, feint fragrance. As we have seen in this article on quinces, they are even placed in lingerie drawers for their aroma, much like lavender.
Quinces can be boiled, mashed, baked, roasted or made into deserts. The traditional sweet preserve, ‘glyko tou koutaliou’, is a favourite, while another simple dessert is made by boiling the fruit together with grape syrup and a couple of kiouli/arbaroriza leaves, and it’s then sprinkled with almonds to serve.
‘Kidonopasto’ – a hardened quince paste, eaten like chocolate – was one of the favourite sweets of the Byzantine people. The tradition carried on, and when we were children we’d visit villages in Cyprus where the women used to prepare kidonopasto in huge baking dishes; once it set, it would be cut into small pieces as a treat for the family, neighbours and all visitors in Autumn and right through winter too.
We’ll soon be publishing a kidonopasto recipe, so check back if you’re interested.
The recipe below is for a very satisfying home meal or a very special one for your guests. Destined to be a favourite!
It can be made with lamb or goat. Use goat meat if available as there is less fat.
- ½ kg shoulder of lamb or goat, cut into portions on the bone
- ½ kg quinces
- 1 large onion
- 6 tbsps olive oil
- Juice of half a lemon
- 2 ripe tomatoes, grated, or ½ cup tinned chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp sugar (no sugar if wine is used)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 5 cups hot water (4 if wine is used)
- ½ to 1 cup koumandaria wine, or any other sweet wine (optional)
- Peel and cut the quinces in quarters
- Cut each of the quartered quince pieces lengthwise into 8 pieces
- Place in a bowl of water with the lemon juice
- Wash the meat, strain and pat dry with kitchen paper
- Heat oil in a casserole and sauté meat until lightly brown on all sides
- Add the onion and sauté until translucent
- Add the water and the tomatoes
- Bring to the boil, cover and cook for 40 minutes
- Rinse quinces with cold water and scrape hard core off
- Add them to the meat together with salt and pepper
- Add the koumandaria. If sweet wine is not used, sprinkle the sugar on top
- Shake the pot to mix ingredients
- Cover and Cook for 30 - 45 minutes until quinces are soft
- If liquid evaporates add a bit more hot water to be left with some liquid at the end for serving
- For a more impressive look sprinkle blanched almonds on top before serving
- A few dried apricots can also go in to the pot when quinces are added