Quince is wonderful in desserts & drinks, jellies & pies, & also with savory items like hard cheese & meats. Why then do we not typically see bushels of them at the grocery store? I believe it is because quince are challenging to work with. Simply put, it’s delicious, but you are going to work for it -- And it will be worth it!
A couple key factors to keep in mind when harvesting-- First off, if they are still green, tuck them aside to ripen fully. Quince grow a beautiful, golden yellow, some with a bit of a blush or small brown spots, when they are perfectly ripe. The riper they are, the more fragrant & delicious they will be. Simply pop unripe fruit in a bowl & place it in a sunny window to ripen; your patience will be rewarded. Second, plan an afternoon of processing, then you can use them at your leisure. A nice, rainy Fall afternoon with pots of quince simmering away on the stovetop filling your home with their fragrance is lovely instead of tedious. Lastly, I suggest poaching most of your haul. Poached quince is truly lovely on its own, baked into a pie, or used to top yogurt or waffles. Once poached, they will keep for about a week in the fridge or can be frozen in their syrup for up to six months. And don’t throw out that poaching liquid -- it is amazing for all manner of cocktails, zero-proof drinks, & as an ice cream or waffle topper! You can even use it to make sorbet.
Take a moment to appreciate the fragrance coming off them as you work --
almost like vanilla & roses.
You should plan to infuse this mixture for 3 - 4 weeks. The gin will take on a very pretty, yellow hue as it lifts the flavor from the fruit – if you used the rose petals, it may have a soft peach color instead. Give your bottle a light shake every few days. You will notice the quince pieces beginning to turn brown as your gin turns yellow. This is normal & not a concern. After 3 weeks, you can give it a try– you may be happy with the flavor at that time & finish it off. If you’d prefer a stronger flavor, let it go another week. Once the flavor is where you’d like it, double strain it to remove all fruit/petals. Your Quince-Infused Gin is now ready to enjoy! Pour it into a decanter [or that empty bottle from before] & enjoy it! No need to refrigerate it & I have not found it to go bad once infused, although to be fair, it never lasts too long around here, so I haven't truly tested the time…..
As I mentioned before, it is nice to sip on its own, but also works well in mixed drinks, both cocktails & zero-proofs. One of my favorite ways to use it is in a Quince riff on a Brandy Alexander. Have fun with it. I am sure you will have fun getting creative!
There you have it! We are heading into prime quince season-- Hop on out there, pick yours & give ‘em a try! Infusing gin with them is absolutely the easiest way to enjoy their unique, delicious flavor; I think you will be thrilled with the results. That is all for this week-- Stay safe & don’t forget to #StopAndEatTheFlowers