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Quince is a pear-shaped fruit, native to Western Asia.

It is a relative of both pears and apples, yet unlike its cousins, it is rather inedible in raw form due to its hard and bitter nature. Its pale pink blossoms are so beautiful however, the leaves are often used for a pretty, floral display.

Quince was used as an offering between lovers in ancient Rome!

Quince paste is a thick jam made from this fruit. It is cooked, pureed, and then combined with lemon juice and sugar, turning it into a firm, gelatinous spread, with a rich, deep, orange color. Thanks to the tart and sweet combination, it is often a staple in Southern Europe and the Middle East as an alternative to jam.

I happen to love quince paste! Most people enjoy it with cheese and crackers, in place of a fig or tart cherry preserve, or alongside an almond or date-nut loaf. It would also be a tasty spread atop warm banana or zucchini bread. For a vegan alternative, substitute non-dairy cheese for the usual, or blend it into hot oatmeal in the morning in place of sugar or maple syrup, and add nuts and raisins for a well-balanced complete dish.

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