Tamsin Car­van’s quince recipes

Country Style - - CONTENTS - WORDS AND RECIPES TAMSIN CAR­VAN PHOTOGRAPHY LISA CO­HEN STYLING LEE BLAY­LOCK

THEY SAY THAT GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHO WAIT, AND TAMSIN CAR­VAN IS CLEARLY REAP­ING RE­WARDS FOR HER PA­TIENT AP­PROACH TO PRE­PAR­ING QUINCES.

It is en­tirely to their credit that quinces will not be rushed. They are among the last of the fruits to ripen on our south­ern vic­to­rian farm (in good com­pany with the pomegranates and the figs), hav­ing spent a good chunk of spring, a whole sum­mer and a bit of au­tumn slowly and con­tem­pla­tively com­plet­ing their trans­for­ma­tion from those glo­ri­ous, gen­er­ous blos­soms through to un­invit­ing, hard, green and furry fruit cul­mi­nat­ing in a fra­grant, smooth-skinned, pale-gold beauty. Once ripe they are in no par­tic­u­lar rush to go any­where, be­ing quite con­tent to hang on the tree for weeks (birds per­mit­ting), wait­ing for the day when the nec­es­sary hours can be set aside to make quince paste, or place them in a slow wood stove to cook overnight on a de­clin­ing heat. It takes slow, pa­tient, gen­tle cooking to call forth the quince’s in­ner beauty, and start her on the jour­ney from hard, sour, white and grainy to deep pink, am­ber or even crim­son, sticky, haunt­ingly fra­grant, and per­fectly sweet and sour. Although many of the old farm or­chards around here in­clude at least one gnarled, ma­jes­tic quince tree, some­where along the way they fell out of fash­ion and it can be hard to find top-qual­ity fruit, ac­tu­ally any fruit, in the shops, which is the per­fect rea­son to grow your own. Cham­pion and Smyrna are the two most com­mon quince va­ri­eties, and the kinds we grow here, but dig a lit­tle deeper into the cat­a­logues and you will find De Bourgeaut, a richly flavoured and coloured French va­ri­ety, Van de Man and Fullers, both of which have no grit­ti­ness in the flesh, and Pow­ell’s Prize, thought to be an Aus­tralian va­ri­ety. (All of th­ese can be found at Wood­bridge Fruit Trees, a small, fam­ily-owned nurs­ery in south­ern Tas­ma­nia, which holds a cap­ti­vat­ing col­lec­tion of her­itage va­ri­eties.) Although quinces have light- to deep-golden skin when fully ripe, they are us­able once the skin changes from a deep to pale yel­low-y green — at this point they are very high in pectin, and per­fect for jel­lies and pastes.at all stages of ripeness care needs to be taken when pre­par­ing them as the flesh is hard and not en­tirely con­ducive to easy cut­ting or peel­ing. Last year, seized with de­spon­dency and aching hands as I stared down at the boxes and boxes yet to pre­pare, I gave up peel­ing and cor­ing them en­tirely. I found that the tex­ture and crunch from the seeds, cores and even stems added a wel­come con­trast to the soft flesh, while yield­ing more time to be spent on that long, slow cooking, and best of all, for gaz­ing on the jewel-like colours and sump­tu­ous tex­tures that are re­ward aplenty for your labours.* Cook, blog­ger and ac­com­plished gar­dener Tamsin Car­van hosts cooking work­shops and sea­sonal lunches at her farm at Poowong East in Vic­to­ria’s Gipp­s­land. For in­for­ma­tion, visit tam­sin­sta­ble.com.au

Wind­fall pie (recipe page 80)

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