Dulce de Membrillo
A search for the golden apple
Have you ever seen a quince in real life? I haven’t, despite my years-long search for them.
Here is what all-knowing culinary bible, the Food Lover’s Companion says about the elusive fruit: “Ancient Romans used the flowers and fruit of the quince tree for everything from perfume to honey. It was also considered a symbol of love and given to one’s intended as a sign of commitment. Though the quince has been around for over 4,000 years throughout Asia and the Mediterranean countries, it’s not particularly popular with Americans. This yellow-skinned fruit looks and tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear. The hard, yellowish-white flesh is quite dry and has an astringent, tart flavor, which makes it better cooked than raw. Because of its high pectin content, it’s particularly popular for use in jams, jellies and preserves. Quinces are available in supermarkets from October through December. Select those that are large, firm and yellow with little or no sign of green. Wrap in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to two months. Peel before using in jams, preserves, desserts and savory dishes.”
Um, I would peel before using in savory dishes if I could, ahem, New Mexico markets.
Aside from Membrillo—a jellied quince paste common in Mexico and some South American countries—which can be found in the cheese section at Whole Foods on Carlisle right now, quince is nowhere to be found as far as I can tell. After patiently waiting for the sacred fruit all summer, it’s heartbreaking that they’re not around.
Am I wrong? Has anyone spotted quince this fall?