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fig quince relish

(recipe, Sarah Gilbert)


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Introduction

You'll smell the quinces from across the market, and you'll want to buy a whole box. Each one smells better than anything you can imagine, except maybe trellises full of purple grapes in early October, perfumey and sweet and you are drunk, standing still as the noise and shopping swirls around you and you inhale again, again, again. You'll want to put them in everything. Here's one idea. (Note: this recipes is written from memory and I haven't done it again to check quantities and times. I'll do so soon and adjust accordingly.)

Ingredients

  1. 1 cup red onions, diced
  2. 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
  3. 2 lb. ripe figs (I use purple figs of an unknown variety I find in my neighborhood)
  4. 2 lb. (or less) fragrant quinces
  5. ½ cup honey
  6. 2 Tbsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar
  7. a few sprigs thyme or several leaves sage or a branch of rosemary
  8. ½ Tbsp. sea salt

Steps

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in large, wide-bottomed pan and add onions.
  2. Saute, stirring occasionally, until soft, adjusting heat to keep from scorching.
  3. Meanwhile, peel, core and dice the quinces into ¼" (or so) cubes.
  4. When onions are soft, add in the quinces and honey and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often and adding a little water (or apple cider, if it's around -- or red wine!) if necessary to keep from drying out. You'll cook for 30-45 minutes, until they begin to soften.
  5. While the quinces are cooking, peel the figs with a sharp knife (if they're extremely ripe, it might be easier just to squish the pulp out). If flesh is whole, chop roughly. Add to quinces after 30 or so minutes. If you plan to can this right away, add your herbs now.
  6. Continue cooking for about an hour, stirring, until your mixture looks more like a jam and less like a ratatouille.
  7. If you don't have time to put this in jars right away, stir in the herbs right at the end and refrigerate overnight to meld the flavors.
  8. Prepare 3 or 4 half-pint jars.
  9. Once you're ready to can, bring to barely bubbling if cold and add in vinegar, and salt to taste.
  10. Ladle into prepared jars and process in a water bath at 180 degrees (or higher) for 30 minutes.