Quinces: How to prepare, cook, and preserve them

Quinces are an easily-grown fruit that’s often ignored in modern diets. Not many people know how to properly prepare them, and they can seem a bit fiddly and slow to cook compared to other fruits.

I think it’s definitely worth learning to prepare and cook quince – they are like no other fruit, and there’s something deeply warming about the way they taste on a cold autumn day. 

My favourite way to cook them is to slowly simmer them in a spiced syrup. I make a large batch, we either eat them over the course of a few days, or water bath can them to store for later.

I also enjoy making quince jam – delicious on top of toast, porridge, and rice pudding. I’ll also share the recipe for this here.

Quinces in basket

How to find quinces

If you live anywhere where apples and pears grow, you can probably find quinces. They are part of the pome fruit family, related to apples and pears. Dwarf pear trees for home gardens are actually grafted onto quince rootstock, as they are so closely related.

Quinces are ready for a brief season in mid to late autumn. There are several different varieties, and they’re usually ripe in the second and third months of autumn. Ripe quinces have yellow skin and pale flesh, which turns red or pink when cooked.

Quince can be hard to find in shops. Look for roadside fruit stands, and buckets out the front of houses with fruit trees.

How to prepare quince

Get a very big bowl or pot and put 4 litres (1 gallon) of water in it, along with 2 tablespoons cider vinegar and a teaspoon of salt. This acid water will help prevent the quinces from browning while you’re cutting up more of them.

Peel each quince and put in the acid water. Once they’re all peeled, cut the top off each one, then cut each one in half, and then in half again, to form four wedges. 

Now it’s time to remove the cores. Begin by using the knife right at the edge of the quince quarter, starting at the top, where the stem was. As you work your way downwards, allow the knife to follow the grain of the quince, so that you’re skimming along as close to the gritty and tough core as possible – this is something that is picked up over time. If you get a bit of gritty core in with the quinces, it’s not the end of the world, if you skim off too much, then that’s just some extra scraps for the goats and not for you. 

After coring, put the quince pieces back in the acid water again and leave them until you’re ready to cook. Peel and core the rest of the quinces and add them back to the acid water too. 

how to core quinces

How to cook quince in spiced syrup

In a 5 litre (5 quart) pot, prepare a syrup for poaching with 2 1/2 litres (10 cups) water, 800g coconut sugar (4 1/2 cups) or honey (2 1/3 cups), and some optional spices – I like to add 10 smashed cardamon pods, 1 cinnamon stick, and 2 star anise. Bring to a simmer on the stove and keep warm. These quantities will give enough syrup to cook between 4 and 5 kilograms (9 to 11 pounds) of quince.

Once all the quince is prepared, put them in the hot poaching liquid, adding more water and honey if it needs it. Quinces shrink a little while they’re poaching, so it’s fine to have them fit quite snugly together, but there should still be some extra syrup at first, and any extra can be used for poaching another batch of quinces, or making baked syrup dumplings, so it’s better to have too much syrup rather than not enough. 

Gently simmer over a medium-low heat for at least forty minutes, or up to a few hours if the heat is low enough. Quinces are best when they’re cooked slowly. I prefer to cook mine in the oven, as it’s a more gentle all-over heat, rather than the harsh heat that sometimes happens on top of my stove, but you can cook on a stovetop too if you keep the heat very low. 

When cooked, the quinces will be soft, and will have changed colour. They can fall apart quite easily, so handle them gently. 

Now you have a big pot full of cooked quince, ready to serve as a dessert, or add to cakes and pies. Quince in syrup can keep in the larder with the lid on for around a week, or you can put the quinces and syrup into preserving jars, seal in the usual way, and process in a boiling water bath for 40 minutes.

How to make quince jam

Quince makes a delicious jam, perfect with porridge, rice pudding, scones, pancakes, or toast. 


2kg (5 pounds) quinces

1 litre (quart) to 1.5 litres (1.5 quarts) water

1.2kg (2.6 pounds) honey


If you don’t usually make jams, see my blog post here or my book for in depth information about the process.

Prepare quinces in the usual way by following the instructions above. Cut into very small pieces (or use a grater).

Heat 1 litre (1 quart) water in a large heavy-bottomed pot until boiling. Add the quince and stir.

Cook until the quince is very soft and can easily be mashed with a wooden spoon. As the quince cooks, it should fluff up a little and absorb water, so add water, a small amount at a time if it is needed, to form a thick sauce, keeping in mind that the honey will water it down further.

Add the honey, bring back to the boil, and continue to cook, uncovered, stirring every so often, until it passes the “plate test” (see my jam post or book for more on that)

Put your jam in jars in the usual way, Australian hot jar/hot lid/upside down works for this if this is what you normally use, or can in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

How to store quince

Quince can be stored for two or three months by selecting the very best, unbruised, undamaged quinces and placing them in layers in a 5 gallon bucket, with each quince surrounded by dry autumn leaves. Store in a cool place, such as an unheated room, a root cellar, or outdoors in the shade.

Quince jam and bottled quinces in spiced syrup will store for one year in a cool, dry place.

a year in an off-grid kitchen cookbook cover
For more seasonal cooking skills, tips, and recipes see my cookbook A Year in an Off-Grid Kitchen: Homestead Kitchen Skills and Real Food Recipes for Resilient Health
Canned quinces, quinces in basket, preparing quinces

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A Year in an Off-Grid Kitchen is now published!

I am pleased to announce that my cookbook is now available to buy online and in bookshops – if your favourite local bookshop does not have a copy, it can be ordered in by giving them the title and the ISBN:

Paperback ISBN  978 0 6484661 6 1

Hardcover ISBN  978 0 6484661 5 4

Paperback and hardcover copies can be ordered online through the usual places.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Year-Off-Grid-Kitchen-Homestead-Resilient/dp/0648466167/?tag=pfa12-20

Book Depository (free shipping): https://www.bookdepository.com/Year-Off-Grid-Kitchen-Kate-Downham/9780648466161

The Paperback edition of A Year in an Off-Grid Kitchen

Ordering the eBook through Permies.com gives you access to both the PDF and the epub versions, or the Kindle version can be bought from Amazon.

Permies.com: https://permies.com/wiki/157756/Year-Grid-Kitchen-eBook

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Year-Off-Grid-Kitchen-Homestead-Resilient/dp/0648466167/?tag=pfa12-20

How to Make Butter

All you need to make butter is a bowl, a whisk, and some cream.


The cream should have no additives, just cream, and if it’s créme fraiche for making cultured butter, then it will have cultures as well (here’s my recipe for culturing cream at home).

Put the cream in the bowl and whisk. After a fair amount of whisking it will become whipped cream. Continue whisking and whisking and the whipped cream will become more yellow. Soon after this you’ll begin to see some liquid forming. Continue whisking, more of the buttermilk will separate from the butter.


You don’t have to do all the whisking at once, you can come back to it every now and then. Or you can use a stand mixer or hand mixer.

Once it looks as though all the buttermilk that’s going to come out has been released, strain the butter over a mixing bowl, reserving the buttermilk for recipes.

Put the butter in a bowl of very cold water. Knead with your hands a few times to release even more of the remaining milk.

Drain the water and replace with more very cold water. Knead again.

Remove the butter from the water, kneading as much water out of it as you can. Shape it and store it in beeswax wraps or glass jars. Enjoy!


Cultured butter with buttermilk scones, créme fraiche, and honey-sweetened jam.

This post has been shared with Wonderful Wednesday, Friday Favourites, Party in your PJs,

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Strategies to move away from cities: Market gardening in small spaces


Photo credit: here

One of the things many folks struggle with when wanting to move to rural areas is income. Since the increased mechanisation of farming less people are needed to work in mainstream farming operations, and there aren’t many jobs available in these areas. People in cities often feel trapped in them, under the assumption that they need a typical ‘job’ in the country in order to move there.

For most people, a move to the country will involve needing to find a local source of income. Market gardening offers us the opportunity to create our own secure jobs in rural areas.
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An easier way to make soft cheese


Chévre. After fermenting for 12 hours you can see the curd has separated from the whey.

Chévre is pretty easy to make to begin with, but it usually begins with boiling water and sterilising everything in the boiling water, which adds extra time and hassle to the process.

I’ve been getting massive cravings for chèvre, so much that I even looked at soft goats cheese in the shop (before quickly moving away, knowing that I can make better stuff at home) and knew I had to make some soon, so instead of my usual method of boiling water, sterilising everything that’s going to touch the milk with the boiling water, then heating cold milk up in a saucepan to the right temperature I just added some milk kefir (around 2 tablespoons) and diluted rennet (the tiniest amount possible, a drop or less diluted in a bit of water) to a jar of fresh milk warm from the goat, moved the jar around a little to mix it in, then left it to sit for around 12 hours, before draining for around 6 hours, mixing salt through, and letting it drain for a little longer. Great cheese with less trouble than the other way.

We’ve sold the cow. I have mixed feelings about this, but it’s something we had to do, and I’m glad she has a good home with another family. I have one hard cheese aging in the makeshift cheese cave that I made from her milk, an asiago with a natural rind. I’ve never been successful with natural rinds before, mainly from forgetting to brush them every week, but this one seems to be going well, and we can probably start eating it next month.

This post is a part of Simple Homestead Blog Hop

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A Chemical-Free Milk Bucket Sterilisation Routine


Geraldine’s milk

Raw milk is an important food to my family, so much so that we don’t mind buying all of our goats’ feed in while living in suburban sized blocks with no grazing land. To make the most of this precious milk, and to make sure that there’s no chance of us getting sick, I am careful about having a milking routine that minimises the chances of the milk getting contaminated.

This is what I do:
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