Quince: Easy Peeling and Cutting Tips
Quince have a wonderful flavour, but an almost impossibly hard texture. Read on for a quick kitchen tip that makes quince easy to peel and cut!
Quince are one of those fruits that chefs and foodies rave about, while the rest of us mortals try them once, and give up in despair or frustration. It doesn’t have to be this way. I am here to help, with a very easy tip to transform your quince from rock hard impossibles into easy-peeling fruit.
Because the foodies are right: fragrant, delicious, amazing quince are the Queen of fall fruits, worth every bit of effort.
Quince are in the rose family, and related to both apples and pears. They taste as though they are made of equal parts apple, guava, rose, and red wine, with an incomparable perfume and a beautiful colour that progresses from yellow to rose-pink to deep burgundy as they cook. Despite their difficult nature and fleeting window of availability, quince are dear to my heart and to my palate. Which is why I want to help you all to use them easily.
Quince are available only in the fall, usually only in October. On Vancouver Island, you can find them at farms, farm markets, and some grocery stores. Including, but not limited to: The Root Cellar, Dan’s Farm Market, Nanoose Edibles Farm, LifeCycles Fruit Tree Project, Michell’s Farm Market. Call ahead to make sure there are some available.
Now, on to our tip for making quince easy to peel and cut.
As some of you have no doubt already noticed, quince are ROCK HARD, almost impossible to peel and cut without blood, and maybe tears. They also can’t be eaten raw; aside from being tooth-chippingly hard, they are sour and tannic. So they have to be cooked and sweetened to reveal their wonderful aroma. And most recipes just blithely tell you to “peel the quince with a peeler and then cut into wedges away from the core.” HA. As if!
These recipes are clearly written by people who have either superhuman strength, or have never actually touched a quince.
But there is an EASY way around this. . .
Just partially bake the quince ahead of time. That’s it. Twenty minutes in the oven, let them cool enough to handle and bingo! The quince will now have the approximate texture of a raw apple: soft enough to peel and cut easily, while still firm enough to be cut into beautiful wedges and cubes without losing their shape.
The quince struggle is over with this one simple tip.
I can’t claim to have figured this out myself. A friend of mine, a domestic goddess and preserving champion, told me this easy quince tip over ten years ago and I am forever grateful.
Now that you know how to make your quince life easier, you can try my recipes for quince paste, quince pie, and savoury lamb tagine with quince. Or you can search the internet for quince jelly, quince marmalade, poached quince, and so many more wonderful ideas. Happy Quincing!
EASY PEELING AND CUTTING QUINCE
This quince cutting tip was shared with me by a friend many years ago and I am forever grateful. I often process all my quince this way and store the peeled and cut slices in zipper lock bags in the freezer for future use.
Quince (about 5 lbs at a time)
Preheat oven to 350 F (175 C). Wash the fuzz off the quince by rubbing them under running water. Place the whole quince upright on a baking sheet. Fill the sheet without crowding it too much. This works best if you only do one sheet at a time in your home oven, but you can do two sheets and rotate them half way through, if necessary.
Place baking sheet with quince in the oven for about 20 minutes (a bit longer if the quince were large) until their skins have developed a light brown colour. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Once the quince are cool enough to handle, they will be easy to cut and peel. They will now be the approximate texture of a a raw apple: easy to peel and cut, while still firm enough to hold their shape. NOTE: the quince will still be quite hard around the core, so you may not get totally perfect wedges when you cut them. You can bake them a bit longer to help with this, but the cores have some grainy, hard quality that never quite goes away. Which is why we don’t eat quince cores.
You can now use the quince in any recipe, OR put the peeled and cut quince wedges + pieces in a zipper lock bag and into the freezer for future use in pies, stews, jams, you name it.
I use the cores and all the gritty flesh attached to them to make jelly, usually Paradise Jelly, which is an exquisite combination of quince, apple and cranberry.
Thank you so much for this. My wrists were sore for a week the first time I tried “hacking” my way through the cut into quarters instruction. I couldn’t find any tricks to make this easier onliune so pretty much gave up on quinces! Leslie
I know!!! Raw quince are brutal and there is literally no help online. Here’s hoping this post goes viral LOL
I threw away my unsuccessful attempts at reducing quince yesterday and the idea of smashing up the core and surrounds puts me off. My neighbour over the road says just keep boiling.i will try one of your ideas with the remaining fruits
mostly in monasteries.
Life saver! I love quince but OMG are they hard to prep. This makes it that little bit easier – thank you!
You are welcome!
Am am trying the bake idea as I write this. This year my tree for the first time gave me a real crop. Most years in the last 5 since planted it has been one or two. I have over a 100 on my table to process and that is after I gave away a lot as well.
I do take issue with one thing. I never remove the fuss on the Quince. I lightly rinse then to get the field dust off but that is it. That fuss is attached to the fruit wax. That wax is pure pectin. That is why these trees were planted in every farmers yard until the 1890’s when commercial pectin was widely available.
I will swing back and let you know how it goes. If this works, I am inclined to send you a bottle of wine!
PS. When the fresh cranberry comes out in the fall make the traditional version of cranberry, sugar clove and use 1/2 less cranberry and make it up with pre-80% cooked quince. Save the cooked quince water for the cranberry/quince combo. Then can it and use it all year. People go nuts over it.
Hi James, I still end up with so much pectin from these fruits that I don’t notice the lack of fuzz :) I LOVE the cranberry-quince sauce idea for Thanksgiving. I am going to try it this year; if it turns out, you can keep that bottle of wine :)
My quince are quite large. I am trying the oven method as they are VERY difficult to peel!
Thank you. It really worked. We have struggled with our quinces for years.
I bless you for this hack. Every year I make a Quince and Cardamom jam with fine lime slices. I think it is an old Persian recipe but there is nothing like it commercially and all my friends look forward to my yearly battle with this fruit of the gods. I love the alchemy of this gnarly hard fruit turning into a pink fragrant treat.
You are most welcome! I salute another quince lover – these fruits are trulay amazing.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS I AM 82 YRS OLD WITH NO HELP AND MY TREE FRUITED FOR THE FIRDT TIME THIS YEAR ABOUT 90 QUINCE VERY LARGE FRUITS IN FACT BROKE A COUPLE OF BOUGHS . i AM GOING TO TRY THE WHOLE FRUIT ROASTED IDEA AND THE USE THEM FROM MY FREEZER. i MUST SAY IT SEEMS BETTER THAN MY METHOD OF A LARGE KNIFE AND A HAMMER .LOL
You are so welcome!!
Can you share your recipe for quince and cardamom jam with lime slices?
Such a brilliant idea!!! Thank you!
I just read a recipe that said “peel and core your quinces” and thought how ridiculous it was. Whoever wrote that recipe has obviously never tried to core one of these beasts!
This message is for Maryan Hoffernan. I wonder if you could share your recipe for your quince & cardamom jelly? I have made quince jam & cajeta (Mexican candy) but I would love to try your jam. I will be trying this method of removing the skin from quince. My hubby & I work hard on peeling this fruit. The method of the oven sound easy & fast.
Is the peeling edible after cooked?
Hi Karen, the peels are technically edible, although I have only ever used them to make pectin, never eaten them directly
I quartered the washed fruit and put them in my slow cooker for about 8 hours. I plan on putting them through my food mill and then making jam or fruit leather. The cranberry addition sounds good!
Quince fruit leather sounds amazing!
I was just given some quinces and will take your advice and bake the rest. I already have one pierced hand from trying to cut them in their raw state. Thank you for the tip!
You’re welcome, Janice!