Yoghurt ice blocks
I MAKE MY OWN yoghurt using pasteurised milk and either a yoghurt starter or a tablespoon of bought supermarket yoghurt, then culture it in a yogotherm. Sometimes re-cultured yoghurt can be a bit thin and a bit sour, particularly for children, as the texture depends on the working bacteria and the composition of the milk. I find the flavour is pretty wonderful for my tastebuds, making a great smoothie with the addition of fruit, but even better ice blocks.
Once upon a time, in the good old days, everyone wanted to get their hands on some of these tough knobbly fruit. Quinces were a much sought-after delicacy, originating in Turkey, but you've always had to believe in a little bit of magic to truly discover their secret.
Unfortunately the humble quince seems to have gone out of fashion, fallen from the tree as it were, to be usurped by its much tastier and versatile cousins, apples and pears.
But hang on a minute. Before you give up and turn the page to see what Murray Grimwood has to say this month about the state of the world, give quinces another chance. All it takes is a little heat and you will start to understand and appreciate why the Greeks regarded the quince as a symbol of fertility and dedicated it to the goddess, Aphrodite.
The exquisite fragrance of the fruit is the primary reason that it was celebrated in this way. Leave just one quince in a fruit bowl or on a windowsill, and it won't be long before you notice a delicate fragrance of vanilla, citrus, and apple wafting into your kitchen. Fortunately when you cook quinces, they retain their delightful fragrance but the best is yet to come.
The real alchemy is all about colour; cook quinces and you’ll watch the yellowy-white flesh turn either a glorious deep rosy pink or a muted sunset orange. Doesn’t that make you just want to race out and find a tree and stew up a few?
I am lucky to have a generous friend who has a beautiful old quince tree. Every year, Steve faithfully contacts me to see if I want any, and I say yes please! He gets a jar or two of jam out of the deal so it works both ways.
Quinces are often to be found on ancient, gnarlybranched trees in a neglected or deserted orchard as they’re not popular in modern gardens. One tree that I routinely check every year is in a horse paddock way out in the middle of nowhere on the back road from Motueka to Nelson. The horses make a half-hearted attempt at eating the ones that fall on their side of the fence, and the bees and wasps help out, but on the roadside there are always plenty just going to waste until someone like me comes along and picks them up.