Vodka + shredded quince = quince liquor. What could be easier?
I love growing unusual fruits, herbs and vegetables. The more obscure, the better. Bonus points if someone says, “I’ve never heard of that.”
Enter quince. A pome fruit related to the pear and apple, quince has been imbued with some pretty weighty symbolism throughout the ages (many historians believe that it was a quince—not an apple—that tempted Eve in the Garden). I was in my late 20s before I first encountered the fruit (in jam form, at a B&B in the Loire Valley), and despite this late introduction, I have probably eaten more quince than most North Americans.
One day, when I have a yard, I’ll plant a quince tree. Until then, I track them down at the farmer’s market in fall and winter. I find a quince sliced into an apple pie or introduced into applesauce enhances the flavour of both. I’ve made quince jam, quince jelly, quince paste (terrific with manchego), and now quince liquor.
Making quince liquor—or any infused alcohol, for that matter—is pretty simple. Just:
• Sterilize some large glass jars.
• Fill with shredded quince and a cinnamon stick (optional).
• Cover the fruit with vodka and seal the jar.
• Shake the jar every few days to encourage infusion.
• Sample frequently to assess flavour. I kept mine on my desk so I didn’t forget about it (see top photo) and in case of writer’s block.
• Once the alcohol has achieved the level of infusion you’re after, strain out the fruit. Cheesecloth works well for this (see above photo). My concoction was stewing for at least a month.
• Add sugar to taste. Don’t feel guilty if “to taste” means several cups. I added a shocking amount of the stuff; quince is quite astringent.
• Decant into clean bottles (or back into your glass jars).
• Drink up!
• Enjoy the satisfaction of making your own booze (I mean, hello? How awesome is that?) and plan to make your own vodka next. Hey, potatoes are easy; how hard could it be?