Autumn is undoubtedly my favourite season of the year for foraging. The air is cool and the figs, apples, pomegranates and quinces are in abundance. We have the usual quince trees that we harvest from in Basket Range, but this year has been particularly exciting as it’s the first quince crop we picked from Tilleys Hill Farm. The tree is old and in desperate need of some TLC in the future. Despite its age, it delivered us 20kg of fabulous fruit.
Quinces hold a special place in my kitchen and heart. Making quince paste has been an annual tradition from a young age when Dad and I would go into the Adelaide Hills, forage for quinces and then head back to the kitchen. We’d start kitchen prep in the afternoon, which would mean that we were still stirring bubbling quince paste in the early hours on the morning. Those who’ve made it know it’s not something you can hurry or cut corners on. Cooking slowly and patiently will deliver the absolute best product.
Every single year as we pack up in the wee hours of the morning we pledge ‘that next year, we will start cooking in the morning. Next year we’ll do it differently.’ However to this day we still find ourselves starting in the afternoon and pulling an all night shift just to make sure we get the best paste possible. We’ll never learn.
We know quince paste as the classic accompaniment on a cheese plate. However I recently discovered a use for quince paste, which I’m devastated I hadn’t discovered earlier – mix a tablespoon into your pan juices from your roast next time. You will create the best gravy you’ve ever eaten and have your guests licking their plates! Try it.