CUSINELe coing parfumé – The Fragrant Quince

There is nothing quite like the scent of a quince. Unfortunately, they are a seasonal fruit and are only available in Australia during the autumn months. So, now’s your chance to have a splurge: buy about ten and put them in a large bowl on a table. They will perfume your house for a couple of weeks and then, when you cook them, you can fill your house with another amazing aroma.

When travelling in most areas of France, you will usually find a couple of quince trees set amongst the apple and pear orchards. They are highly decorative trees with beautiful blossoms. Locals in the Alsace region produce a wonderful quince liqueur – liqueur de coing. Quinces are not edible straight from the tree but need to be “bletted” (rotted) or cooked.

There is nothing easier than slow-cooking quinces in a large preserving pan. Just make sure you know what ingredients to add! Back when I was living in France, I made the mistake of putting some of the local honey into my cooking syrup. After a short while, I found myself surrounded by a swarm of bees. They had made their way into my kitchen, hoping to reclaim their produce.

In fact, poached quinces need nothing more than a large quantity of sugar and some lemon juice and zest (see recipe, opposite). They can be kept in the fridge for at least a month in a sterilised jar or container. If you would like to use them later, pack one quince with a quantity of the syrup in a snap lock bag and place it in the freezer to bring out for unexpected guests. Serve with some pâté or a beautiful soft French cheese. Your guests will be so impressed.

These quinces can also accompany meats such as roast or rack of lamb. Slice and core the required amount and add to the meat juices with some green peppercorns, balsamic vinegar and demi-glace (a concentrated stock of veal or beef found in most good delis); they will lift the dish into a whole new realm. The French have a great love of offal. Lambs’ liver, particularly, lends itself to a quince sauce.

Foie d’agneau sauté

Fried Lamb’s Liver

1 small lamb’s liver, trimmed of all blood vessels and sliced fairly thickly, soaked for a couple of hours in a mixture of milk, water and a teaspoon of salt

Olive oil and butter for frying

Salt and pepper

½ cup beef stock

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

1 large or 2 small poached quinces, sliced and cored, plus a little of the syrup


  1. Drain the lamb’s liver and dry on paper towel, season generously with freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Heat the oil and a little butter in a pan and quickly fry the liver for about one and a half minutes on both sides. Remove the liver and keep warm.
  3. Add the stock to the pan with the balsamic vinegar and rosemary, scraping up the residue left by the liver and turn the heat down to low. Mash the quince into the juices. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more stock.
  4. Serve the liver on a potato mash, napped with the sauce, with a salad or a selection of your favourite vegetables.


If there are any stems or leaves with the quinces add these too – they, and the core and pips of the fruit, help to create a wonderful colour.

Les coings pochés

Poached Quinces

10 medium-sized yellow quinces, washed with the felt removed

3 litres water

6 cups sugar

Zest of one lemon (in several large pieces) and juice of 5 lemons


  1. Place the quinces in a large preserving pan with the sugar, water and lemon zest and bring to the boil. Cook uncovered at this pace until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Turn the heat down to very low (you may need to use a simmer pad) and continue cooking uncovered for about five hours. Using a wooden spoon, turn the fruit at regular intervals to make sure it is cooking evenly.
  3. The fruit should turn a magnificent red and the cooking liquid should become quite gelatinous. At this stage, add the lemon juice and cook for another half hour. It may be necessary to add just a little more water during the cooking, depending on the evaporation.
  4. Cool, pack in sterilised jars and refrigerate until serving.


Chef Cherry Macleay

Chef Cherry Macleay

Bon appétit!






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