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?
I love posts that start with food and end with booze! I was just reading “The Owl and the Pussycat” to O last night and trying to explain quince (and mince, for that matter). You have made me all-knowing again.
If you’re serious about making your own vodka next, I recommend that you start with sugar, not potatoes, for your first try. Also, take the amount of sterilization you do for canning and plan on tripling it.
Laguna Dirt says
love infusions! i usually go with lemons and vodka (and then lots of sugar to taste), but also like pineapple, and toss in some raspberries for color. quince. it’s just fun to say! i bet it has a subtle flavor? salud!
exciting! i love quince too! never thought of making an infusion. what a G R E A T idea! i am now compelled to hunt down quince at the farmer’s market on saturday. thanks! :::
Here in Spain we are well aquainted with qunce. In fact, I’m gong to give this recipe to my mother as soon as I see her, as she’s been running out of ideas for the huge quince production from her garden.
No more sweet things for us, enter booze!
Andrea Bellamy says
Kiley – I love “The Owl and the Pussycat.” It’s a great book (my favourite is the “runcible spoon”!
Michelle – Yikes. Sounds…labour intensive. On second thought, Stoli isn’t so bad.
Laguna Dirt – Oh, YUM. That sounds delish! Quince is subtle. Kind of floral and a touch rosy.
Tifanie – Yay! Let me know how it goes.
Morwen – I’d be curious to know what your mom does with her quince normally. I’m always up for trying new recipes!
I have planted three quince trees in our Cedar Cottage garden food forest so in a couple of years, hopefully there will be quince to pick right off the trees.
I’ll have to tell our ‘Gourmet Club’ that homemade lemoncello is old hat – we have to get hip and try quince liquor. I know who grows quinces.
Thanks for the inspiration to try and make my own infused liquor – I didn’t know it was so simple to infuse vodka! Keeping it safe on my desk for frequent checks/sampling sounds perfect ;)
Andrea, did you peel and core the quince before you shredded them?
Timothy Des Roches says
I make a quince liqueur every year wit small quince from bushes. I use pure grain alcohol and vodka. When the fruit has finished macerating (around 8 months), I filter and bottle. In the past I’ve been bothered by wassted alcohol left in the fruit, but this year I covered the boozy bits with simple syrup and let sit for a week. Well, don;t you know that concentration of alcohol in the fruit migrated to the syrup and voila, a second soak liqueur was produced that was still very fruity albeit lower in alcohol (about 25 percent whereas the first soak is around 45-50 %). The leftover booze-bled fruit was then transformed into quince paste, flavorful and sweet.
I’m wondering if the quince were steamed/cooked at all first, if that wouldn’t help with the acrid aspect of the fruit.
Andrea Bellamy says
Good suggestion, Barbara. That definitely might help.