Vanilla Bean & Anise Poached Quince

My boyfriend brought home a wonderful gift for me last week; a bag full of gorgeous fragrant yellow quince. He’d spotted them at a farmer’s market near his office during lunch, and bought me as many as he could carry. I was absolutely over the moon with this present, particularly after having spent several days searching online and various markets for more quinces to replenish the few I’d used to make Membrillo earlier this month.

There were a dozen in all and we poured them out into my big red mail-and-keys bowl on the coffee table. There they sat for a few days, filling up our apartment once again with that indescribable fragrance. I decided to make a few different things with them, starting with a simple, slightly sweet poach that I knew would be lovely on ice cream and thick Greek yogurt. (These poached quince were also used in a cake I'll tell you about soon.)

Quince lends itself quite nicely to poaching due to its natural acidity and tough texture. The thing cooks hate most about working with this fruit is the battle it is to peel them. The tough outer skin clings hard and fast to the flesh, proving a challenge for even the most formidable of peelers. I’ve found an easy way to deal with this problem that I’m going to share with you.

Basically, I just don’t bother. Seriously.

There is absolutely no reason to peel the quince. Just chop, snip out the seeds, and poach. After a few hours, the peel becomes just as buttery sweet and tender as the rest of the fruit and you’ll have saved yourself quite a bit of trouble. It’s totally edible, but if you’re completely adamant about removing, then simply wait until the fruit has cooled a bit and use your fingers to easily slide it off the wedges.

Vanilla Bean & Anise Poached Quince

4-5 medium sized quince (each about the size of an apple)
3/4 cup sugar
2 vanilla beans, split
3 star anise pods
2 thick slices of lemon peel (about 1 inch thick each)

Scrub and clean the quince well. Core and cut into 1 inch thick wedges. Do not peel.

Place the cut fruit into a large pot and fill with water until it is about an inch about the fruit. The quince will likely float so use your hands to push the fruit under and gauge the right amount of water.

Add the vanilla beans, anise pods, and lemon peel.

Place on the stove over high heat and allow to come up to a boil. Lower the heat to a slow simmer and leave on the stove for 2.5 to 3 hours. The water will reduce and thicken into a syrup and the quince will be fork tender and turn a deep ruby color.

Remove from the heat and let cool in the syrup then place in the refrigerator overnight (still in the syrup). In the morning, strain the fruit and keep in a jar or air-tight container in the fridge. This can be used over yogurt or baked in various desserts (stay tuned for some ideas).

The syrup is also lovely drizzled over ice cream or pound cake.

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