An alternative is a chaenomeles or Japanese quince, a decorative shrub happiest leaning against a sunny wall where it will be covered in scarlet blossom and then mini-quinces. If all you want is a few jars of quince jelly every year, Chaenomeles is ideal.
|Crimson red poached quinces [we'll try the lemons too!]|
On the other hand, quinces make a whole range of delicious puds. Raw, the fruit is inedible! The following recipe by Lucas Hallweg was taken from the Sunday Times of December 16 2007 and recommends an alternative to Christmas Pud - just as rich and luxurious, but not as stodgy. I've halved his quantities so this recipe serves 4.
2 medium or one large quince
Juice of half a lemon
The other lemon half, halved again
1 cinnamon stick
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2.
Put some water into a bowl with the lemon juice.
Peel and quarter the quinces, or cut the large quince into eight. Drop the pieces into the lemon juice as they will go brown almost instantly.
Put the sugar and half a litre of water into a lidded ovenproof dish large enough to take all the quince pieces in one layer. Add the spices, bay leaf and lemon quarters and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Drop in the quince pieces, bring them to the boil, put on the lid and put the dish in the oven. Cook for 2 hours, turning half way through, until the fruit is soft and deep pink. The liquid will be a rich crimson.
Serve cold with crème fraiche and some of the syrup poured over. We served ours with meringue from the local bakery, and crème crue from La Grande Borde. I didn't say it was a low calorie alternative to Christmas pud!
There is lots of luscious syrup left - follow this link to see Lucas Hallweg's suggestions for using it up!
[Update: 30/11/2013... you now have to pay to access the above link... unless you are already a paid subscriber to The Times or The Sunday Times]