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From tree to table - Quinces
2002 / November

For the people of Anatolia nature is at the heart of life, featuring in songs, poems and expressions. For example, to say ‘There are quinces in the air,’ means that winter is likely to be long and cold. The quince is a fruit that has been associated not only with harsh winters, but with love and passion, and sometimes sorrow and separation. It is often mentioned in connection with the pomegranate in poems, songs and ballads, such as this poem by Orhan Veli: ‘From Istanbul come quinces and pomegranates / Then I turned and saw a handsome young man coming.’ In the rhyming repartee of Çankiri they say, ‘This quince will split / My lover resents it / His love for you / Will split in two.’ And Bedri Rahmi Eyüboglu in his poem ‘Black Mulberry’ says, ‘You are my laughing quince, my weeping pomegranate.’

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From tree to table - Quinces
2002 / November

The quince is a fruit that has been known to human beings since antiquity and has been put to many uses. The Romans used both the fruit and flowers in perfume manufacture, for example, and invested the tree and its fruit with symbolic meanings like faithfulness and love. Perhaps this was why Solon recommended that young girls eat quinces on the eve of their marriage. The quince is a member of the Rosa family and a close relative of apples and pears. Its Latin name is Cydonia oblonga or Cydonia vulgaris, a name deriving from the town of Cydonia on Crete, but the wild fruit is thought to have originated in Anatolia, Greece or the Crimea.

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From tree to table - Quinces
2002 / November
The most common varieties of quince in Turkey are the bardak, demir, ekmek, limon and esme. The bardak quince is most widely cultivated in the province of Kocaeli, and characterised by a downy peel, crisp juicy flesh and tangy flavour. These quinces are harvested in late September, tied in bunches, and stored in cellars for the winter. The demir (‘iron’) quince that ripens in October is aptly named on account of its hard dense texture. The ekmek or ‘bread’ quince that is gathered in September is a good keeper and preferred by many people because it does not have the astringent flavour of many quinces. The ‘lemon’ quince is another popular variety so called because of its bright yellow skin, and the esme is an eating variety widely cultivated in the Marmara region which keeps well until the end of March.
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From tree to table - Quinces
2002 / November


Quinces are widely used in Turkish cuisine. In many places they are simply roasted whole over a charcoal fire and then split open and eaten with a spoon. Quince pudding with clotted cream is a favourite winter dessert, and many other types of sweet puddings and preserves are made of this fruit. Quinces are also an ingredient of various savoury dishes, such as rice or bulgur pilaf, kebabs, meat stews, and salads, and they can be stuffed and cooked in various ways as a vegetable. The recipes given here are but a tiny selection, but I hope they illustrate the versatility of this venerable fruit.

Renan Yildirim is a journalist.

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From tree to table - Quinces
2002 / November
STUFFED QUINCES WITH PEKMEZ
(serves 4)

Ingredients:
4 medium quinces
250 g medium fat minced meat
1 tbsp butter
1 lemon juice
1 large onion
1 heaped tbsp rice
3 tbsp pekmez (grape molasses)
1/2 tablespoon dried coriander
salt

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From tree to table - Quinces
2002 / November

Method:
Wash the quinces, cut a cap off the top and remove the core and some of the flesh. Cut a thin slice off the bottom so that they stand up, and place in a bowl of water mixed with the lemon juice. Boil the rice until half cooked, rinse and drain. Dice the onion and fry in half the butter with the minced meat. Stir in the rice, coriander and salt, and stuff the quinces with this mixture. Arrange in a saucepan and add 1 cup of hot water. Put a small knob of butter on top of each quince, cover and cook over a low heat until the quinces are tender. Add the pekmez and cook for five more minutes. Serve hot.

Renan Yildirim is a journalist.

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From tree to table - Quinces
2002 / November

QUINCE PUDDING WITH CLOTTED CREAM
(serves 8)

Ingredients:

4 large quinces
4 cups sour cherry juice
1 cup sugar
8 cloves
1 tbsp logusa sekeri (a spiced crystallised tablet used for making sherbet and sold by Turkish confectioners)
1 tbsp starch
1 tsp cinnamon
4 tbsp clotted cream or whipped cream
ground pistachio nuts

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From tree to table - Quinces
2002 / November

Method:
Peel the quinces and cut in two lengthways. Remove the core carefully without breaking the flesh and arrange in a large shallow pan. Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon and cloves over. Melt the logusa sekeri in hot water, mix with the sour cherry juice and pour over the quinces. Cover and cook over a low heat, turning occasionally. When tender set aside to cool. Blend some of the juice with the starch, mix with the rest of the juice in another saucepan, and stir over a gentle heat until the mixture thickens. When cool spoon some of this mixture into the centre of each half quince, and place a spoonful of clotted cream or whipped cream over. Sprinkle with ground pistachio nuts and serve.

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From tree to table - Quinces
2002 / November

QUINCE SHERBERT
(serves 4)

Ingredients:
2 quinces
500 g sugar
3 cloves

Method:
Peel the quinces, cut out the cores and dice. Keep some of the pips and peel. Bring 5 cups of water to the boil, add the sugar and simmer for about ten minutes. Add the cloves, quince peel, pips and diced flesh and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Set aside to cool, without removing the saucepan lid. Strain and chill the sherbert before serving
.

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From tree to table - Quinces
2002 / November

Method:
Wash the quinces, cut a cap off the top and remove the core and some of the flesh. Cut a thin slice off the bottom so that they stand up, and place in a bowl of water mixed with the lemon juice. Boil the rice until half cooked, rinse and drain. Dice the onion and fry in half the butter with the minced meat. Stir in the rice, coriander and salt, and stuff the quinces with this mixture. Arrange in a saucepan and add 1 cup of hot water. Put a small knob of butter on top of each quince, cover and cook over a low heat until the quinces are tender. Add the pekmez and cook for five more minutes. Serve hot.

Renan Yildirim is a journalist.

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