Quince is an ancient fruit, found in Roman cooking and grown across Turkey and southeast Asia. It grows on small trees and is closely related to apples and pears, but it lacks their immediate edibility and appeal. The fruit is knobbly and ugly, with an irregular shape and often a gray fuzz — especially when the fruit has been picked underripe. The ripest, nicest quince will have a golden tone and smooth skin like pictured directly above. But even ripe quince doesn’t taste very good raw.
Quince was popular in 18th century New England. Nearly every home had a quince tree in the yard because quince provided a natural and plentiful source of pectin that was necessary for home canners to ensure that preserves they were putting up for the winter were properly set and preserved. After powdered pectins were invented, quince fell out of favor.
The first clue that quince hides something special is its aroma. If you leave a quince on a sunny windowsill it will slowly release a delicate fragrance of vanilla, citrus, and apple into your kitchen. It’s a heady, perfumed scent that is completely at odds with its appearance. Maybe this is why the quince is slowly making a comeback and is celebrated at White Silo Farm in Sherman on November 3 at the 5th annual Quince Festival from 12 noon to 4 p.m. They will be serving 6 dishes made with quince. Their menu includes poached quince with honey ricotta and pistachios, homemade pretzels with quince mustard, quince pannacotta, quince panini, quince butternut squash soup, and the NY Times featured White Silo Thanksgiving recipe with quince, onion, and bacon.
Admission is free. Pay for wine and food. Quince mustard and Quince jam will be available to take home. Live music Saturday (1-4 PM) with the Hummingbirds and Sunday (1-4 PM) with Guy Tino. Free outdoor tours weather permitting.