Monday 9th November 2009 marked 20 years of German re-unification. I remember, like it was only yesterday, watching The Wall come down back in 1989. I was in Doha watching CNN with my parents and friends and thinking "WOW! They do not have to queue for bananas anymore!"
Ok before I get stoned with those bananas for that comment let me say this - at the time I had a very ignorant opinion of Germany and Germans. It was actually very unlike me to fall into the cliché trap of prejudices, because I stubbornly believed (and still do) that all types of discrimination is venom for the heart, mind and soul. I was 17 back then and although I had my beliefs, I had also extensively read about the history of Germany causing me to warp some of my beliefs. I am a free spirit and just the thought of being trapped, stripped away from my freedom makes my skin turn. Then you hear the stories that make you shudder and the media adds potent input to feed your imagination - the rest you rhyme together.
Maybe my first thought should have been "WOW! They are free!" but it wasn't. It was the bananas that symbolized simple freedom so taken for granted by those who have it. Just like bananas, which are readily available to me each day. But seeing those people standing on top of The Wall on that night back in 1989, I felt elated for them - knowing that they could have the pleasure of taking bananas for granted from now on.
Never would I have even imagined that 20 years later I would be living in what used to be a part of the former DDR, married to a man who was born and brought up in such an environment. I've been together with Tom for 11 of these 20 years and love hearing the stories - yes many of them are true and I am always left incredibly baffled by them - but while they love their freedom and would never go back to living under such political situation, Tom's family's stories have taught me one thing. Appreciation. That is a quality I love about Tom - he has the ability to appreciate the fine and small things. He will first look how he can solve a problem himself before calling in the reserves. I, who had everything readily available to her, on the other hand sometimes overlook the smaller things in life and will pick up the phone to get the job done by someone else.
In several points we are very different - no two people could have been brought up so diversely. While I traveled the world with my parents, living in several countries and learning about new cultures, freedom and the people of the world, Tom was confined behind the walls of the DDR, learning about communism and the people who glorified it. But it was the fall of The Wall that brought both of our worlds together. Although our upbringing has shaped each of us differently, which at times does cause its problems, we still have a common factor we share - our love of freedom.
I came to appreciate quince a few years back here in Germany. It was a fruit unknown to me and when my friend's mother dumped a bag full in her kitchen, my friend rolled her eyes and said "not more quince!" She looked at me and handed me the bag. Looking back now - I presume that quinces were their bananas! Not for me - ever since then I adore quince and wait fairly impatiently for the season to begin. I love the fact that quince can be used in sweet and savory dishes and this season I have been really been going wild.
The quince belongs to the pome fruit family and is a distant relative of the apple and pear. Quince is one of the earliest known fruits to man with quince trees growing in several parts of Asia and the Mediterranean over 4,000 years ago. Today, quince is also found in Latin America, the Middle East, and the United States. In the United States and parts of Europe the quince is somewhat different from those found in Western Asia and tropical countries, where the fruit is softer and juicer. In colder climates, quince has a fine, handsome shape, a rich golden yellow color when ripe and a bold fragrance, some consider it to be heavy and overpowering.
Raw, the rind of the quince is rough and woolly with a hard and unpalatable flesh. Taste-wise it is acidulous and astringent. In hotter countries however, the woolly rind disappears and the fruit can be eaten raw. Quince is rarely used in its raw form in Western countries and therefore the hard and dry flesh of the quince turns light pink to purple, becoming softer and sweeter when it is cooked. Due to the astringent and tart flavor, quinces are often made into preserves and jellies. When cooked, quince often tastes like a cross between an apple and a pear and sometimes has the aroma of a tropical fruit.
The fragrant quinces are available from September through to January, so you have plenty of time to experiment with these delicious fruits.
Quinces are an excellent source of Vitamin A, fiber, and iron. They also contain a high level of pectin just as other fruits in the pome family. Being rich in dietary fiber, quince is good for the people who are trying to lose weight. Quince also boasts of high antioxidant properties, which helps the body fight against free radicals and reduces the risk of cancer. Consuming quinces regularly not only aids in digestion, but also helps lower cholesterol. Vitamin C present in quince helps reduce the risk of heart disease in individuals. So make sure you indulge in plenty of quinces this season to get the maximum of its health benefits. Preserve them to enjoy them further after the season.
Selecting and Storing
Select fruit that are large, firm, and yellow with little or no green patches. Quinces should be picked when completely yellow and firm. Be sure to handle them carefully as they bruise easily.
The best way to store quinces is to wrap them in a plastic bag and refrigerate them, where they should last for up to 2 months.
Due to their high pectin content, they are popular for use in jams, jellies, and preserves. Since quince hold their shape, they are ideal for poaching, stewing, or baking as a dessert. But there are other way and ideas to use quinces. You could simply substitute a recipe which uses pears or apples with quince instead or serve cooked quince in your fruit compotes.
In this recipe I have prepared the jam in a very different method. Last year I got a recipe for plum jam from Tom's grandmother, which required the jam to cook for two hours over the stove top. I basically stuck to that idea but as I wanted to be busy doing my yoga and a few other things I decided to allow the quince jam to simmer in the oven for the two hours, where I had to keep an eye on it a lot less. It proved to be an ingenious plan and the result was an intensely caramelized and gorgeously thick quince jam that perfumed the entire house with it's cinnamon-y aromas.
Caramelized Quince Jam with a Sprinkling of Cinnamon
Printable version of recipe here.
2 kg quince, washed, peeled, cored and cut into cubes.
350 ml apple cider
4 tablespoons apple vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon, ground
250g Muscovado sugar or substitute with blond cane sugar
- Pre-heat oven to 170 - 180 degrees C.
- Place quince cubes in a large pot and fill with apple cider. Covered, allow it to simmer for approx. 30-40 minutes until the quince is soft, occasionally stirring. Using a pureeing machine finely puree until smooth.
- Stir in the cinnamon, apple vinegar and sugar. If the pot you are using can be placed in the oven, then wipe down the sides with some kitchen paper, otherwise transfer the mixture into an oven-proof bowl.
- Place the bowl on a baking tray and allow to cook in the oven for 2 hours, until the mixture has caramelized, is very thick and a deep orange color.
- Allow to cool then, pour the thick jam in sterilized jars. Seal and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 to 3 months.
Have a browse through my Food Guide section on the sidebar. You’ll find several brilliant tips, tricks, know-hows and food facts.
This is probably an unconventional way of making quince jam, but the results it produces is so delicious. It can be used for your usual breakfast fare, to add a bit of flair to toast, pancakes or waffles, but it is absolutely great filled in puff pastry packets or in muffins too. Or even better serve some of this with a cheese platter at your next dinner party. It'll be hard to resist not spooning it straight out of the jar and into your mouths though because that fantastic caramel-y and cinnamon-y flavor will have you weak.You might like these fruity spreads from WFLH:
|Pear Cranberry Chutney Spiced with Star Anise||Mirabelle Silver Edge Lavender Preserve||Spicy Raspberry Jam|
Monthly Mingle Reminder
I would like to invite you all to a fantastic party this mingle. Come and join me for a grand Brunch. I’ve already got so many scrumptious creations so don’t miss the party!
Make your favorite brunch recipes and bring send your creations to me by November 16th.
See you there!
Daily Tiffin Reading Tip:
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