Ancient Romans used the flowers and fruit of the quince tree for everything from perfume to honey. It was also considered a symbol of love and given to one’s intended as a sign of commitment.
Though the quince has been around for over 4,000 years throughout Asia and the Mediterranean countries, it’s not particularly popular with Americans. This yellow-skinned fruit looks and tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear.
The hard, yellowish-white flesh is quite dry and has an astringent, tart flavor. Its texture and flavor make it better cooked than raw, and because of its high pectin content it’s particularly popular for use in jams, jellies and preserves.
Quinces are available in supermarkets from October through December. Select those that are large, firm and yellow with little or no sign of green. Wrap quinces in a plastic bag and refrigerate for up to 2 months. Peel before using in jams, preserves, desserts and savory dishes.
The jam being more readily available than the fresh fruit internationally, it is used here to make the liqueur.
- 8 Tablespoons quince jelly or jam
- 1 fifth 80-proof vodka
- sugar syrup to taste
- Steep the jelly/jam in a jar with the vodka for three weeks, shaking occasionally. Filter through cheesecloth.
- Taste for sweetness and add sugar syrup in small increments if desired, stirring and tasting after each addition.