Quince resemble a large, lumpy yellow pear with skin that may be smooth or covered with a woolly down depending on variety. A characteristic common to all varieties is their strong aromatic fragrance, a musky-wild, tropical-like perfume. Astringent and sour, the flesh cannot be eaten raw and requires cooking to be edible. The fruit becomes a rich candy-like paste when slowly cooked and turns a deep apricot color with floral honeyed flavors.
With a high pectin content, quince is ideal for jam, jelly, conserves, fruit leather and candy. Poach quince in wine and vanilla beans. Cook down with sugar until solidified; serve paste, or membrillo, with Spanish cheese such as manchego. Cook with other fall fruits, such as apples or pears, and reduce into compote, or add to spiced cake batter. Add cooked quince to ice cream custard. Quince is also used in savory preparations, added to beef and lamb stews, or served, cooked slowly, alongside roasts. For longer storage, wrap fruit individually in a double layer of plastic; refrigerate. Place it where it won't be bruised.