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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Introducing… A Year in an Off Grid Kitchen!

I’ve been quiet on this blog for the past few months, because I’ve been working on something very big…

I’ve been busy creating a cookbook that teaches the kitchen skills that are most important on a homestead, as well as a huge amount of adaptable everyday homestead recipes.

When the the panic buying, empty shelves, and restrictive rations hit earlier this year, it was not a problem for my family, because we knew these skills, and knew how to feed ourselves without the supermarket system. With the help of this book, you can learn these skills too.

I’ve created a Kickstarter in order to pre-sell enough copies to cover the printing costs. Running a Kickstarter means we can cut out the middleman, so I’m able to offer you a better price than the future retail one, while also being able to offer extra ebooks and other goodies.

Here’s the link to the Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/706848724/real-food-cookbook-a-year-in-an-off-grid-kitchen?ref=b91p7r

There’s also an earlybird offer of extra stuff for people who back the Kickstarter in the first 48 hours, including the best natural home cleaning book I’ve read, plus documentaries on rocket ovens, hugelkultur, and more. You can find out more about the earlybird offer here: https://permies.com/t/151135/Earlybird-bundle-Grid-Kitchen-Kickstarter

Raising pigs for meat and lard


Our pigs at around 12 or 13 weeks old. Healthy Wessex saddleback boars, raised in the forest with portable electric fencing.

How much time does it take to raise pigs on the homestead for meat? How much of a commitment is it? What do you need to get started? How much does it cost?…

I write this partly for myself to read next year, so that I remember how it all works, partly for others who are considering raising pigs.

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Cutting up a pig without a saw

how to

Before our pig kill (see this post) we had discussed what we wanted to do with each part of the pig. To keep costs down, we just had the mobile butcher here on one day to do the kill, hair removing, gutting, and sawing the pigs in half and leaving them to hang for a day before we would cut them up ourselves. If we wanted him to cut them into pieces he would probably have to come back another day.

We’ve never before cut pigs up ourselves, and how we handled it is a bit different to the process I’ve seen elsewhere because we didn’t have a saw. Every other instruction around is for how to do it with a saw, so I will write about how we did this using only 6” (15cm) boning knives, and maybe a firewood axe and a good aim (depending on how the spine has been cut).

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Pig day


Our 6 month old Wessex saddleback boar pigs

The next few photos are of the pig slaughtering process, with commentary, to help others who want to raise their own meat or understand a process that has mostly been forgotten in modern times.

Our pigs have lived happy lives in the paddock above for the past few months. They have been able to express their pig-ness, and have enjoyed a diet of acorns, whey, scraps, and local gmo-free grains. Their natural behaviour is to search for roots in the ground with their snouts, turning over some of the soil in a gentle way, and also manuring it. They feed the soil life and prepare the ground for new plants to grow.

Vegetarians might want to stop reading this now.
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I am not that great at describing foods. I sometimes laugh at the descriptions on the back of wine bottles, and at the obsessions that plague the cosmopolitan boomer-inspired worlds of recipes and restaurants, when to me there is just nothing like simple foods created traditionally, and there’s not much to say except ‘perfect’.

This cheese deserves praise though. I will post pictures of it and tell its story.


This cheese was the last cheese I made this year, towards the end of March when I switched back to once a day milking. I’ve had a few hard cheesemaking fails this season due to my rennet being old and stored badly, but there is just nothing like homemade hard cheese, raw and full of flavour from wild cultures, so I persist in trying them every so often. This one used a ‘washed curd’ technique that gouda and havarti use, I used some of my homemade viili yoghurt as starter, and I probably made it on a fruit day in the biodynamic calendar. I used an 800g cheese mould, using 5-6 litres of goats milk.

Lately my land and house have been wanting to grow camembert-style rinds. As this cheese became soft-looking as it aged, and the sides of the rind ‘splooged’ (for lack of a technical word) I noticed a beautiful white rind forming on the splooged bits. At some point it stabilised, but I eyed this off every time I tended to the cheeses, wondering if it would be similar to camembert when I cut it open.


We cut it open the other night, it was like no other cheese I’ve had. Cheese perfection that doesn’t fit into any little cheese category in a book. This cheese can’t be replicated with packets of cultures and milk from the shop, it is just like all good foods should be, an expression of the land that makes it.

I sat it next to the ripening chorizos and saucisson secs in the larder, to spread the white bloom.


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