The days are getting shorter and the trees are beginning to shed their leaves. The quince tree has done magnificently this year. The fruit enormous and abundant. I try to leave them on the tree as long as possible, but the severe winds of the last few days have meant that I had to pick them before they fell - quince are very easily bruised and I didn't want to waste any of them.
A few slices of quince really elevate the flavour of an apple crumble and my family love apple crumble for pudding. Quince are also very good roasted in with a lot of root vegetables and onions. This time of year I also drop a few slices of quince into the pot when I make a vat of spinach soup just to add a bit of punch.
Quince Vinegar is my favourite and I have already made 5 litres of it. Allowed to mature, meld and mellow for a few weeks, it will be perfect for making salad dressings and for seasoning food. I plan to make another brew which can be put into pretty bottles and given away as a small additional Christmas gift.
Quince Marmalade, Membrillo, and Quince Jelly are also on the list of things to make. Quince will be used in puddings and cakes and some will be frozen for future use. I may even make a bottle or two of Quince Vodka to go along with the gifts of Quince Vinegar.
The remainder will be given away to neighbours, family and friends.
Today, however, I really wanted to get started on making mincemeat, ready for Christmas.
A quick rummage through the pantry and store cupboard soon showed me that I had lots of tail ends of bags of dried fruits which needed to be used up. So if this years mincemeat is a success it can never truly be replicated because it is a real mixture of the conventional and the exotic. The usual spices, some veggie suet, brown sugar, zest and juice of a couple of large oranges, a very large dollop of home made bitter orange marmalade, and some home-grown Bramley apples went into the mix (I could have used quince).
As I came to add the apples it became apparent that I needed to get out my really enormous mixing bowl.