Welcome to Life Images by Jill

Welcome to Life Images by Jill.........Stepping into the light and bringing together the images and stories of our world.
Through my blog I am
seeking to preserve images and memories of the beautiful world in which we live and the people in it.
I am a Freelance Journalist and Photographer based in Bunbury, Western Australia. My published work specialises in Western Australian travel articles and stories about inspiring everyday people. My passion is photography, writing, travel, wildflower and food photography.
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Monday, 5 August 2013

And slices of quince which they ate with a runcible spoon........

 Most of us I am sure know the poem The Owl and the Pussycat -

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.


The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear (1812 - 1888) was first published in 1871 - click here to read the entire poem - The Owl and the Pussycat

Don't you love that word - runcible - but what the heck is a "runcible spoon"?   I found several definitions on the web - mostly similar - so I am thinking it is a bit like a splade we know today -  or a "spork" as Americans know it.  
Here is the definition I found -  "A fork curved like a spoon, with three broad prongs, one of which has a sharpened outer edge for cutting".

But it is not the runcible spoon that I am here to talk about - but I will talk about quinces....



I must admit that I have had a love affair with quinces since I was introduced to them a few years ago. I wasn't surprised to read that in Ancient Greece and Rome, the quince was a symbol of love and fertility.


According to -  ABC's Gardening Australia - Quinces originated from Persia, now Iran, and then spread throughout the Mediterranean. (click on the ABC link to read their informative facts sheet)


 You can see below a gorgeous botanical drawing by  Franz Eugen K√∂hler in 1897 -







  








The quince grows on a small deciduous tree, a member of the apple and pear family, and we only seem to see them in our market here for a short time in winter, so I snap them up when I see them. It is now August (the last month of winter) and I have just read that their harvest season is from late March to May (Autumn) - so I don't know why I can only usually buy them around June-July (winter). I should ask the market!

 They seem to be mostly only found in old orchards - The brother of a friend of mine has one on his family farm out in the Ferguson Valley. I was hoping to go out there this weekend and pick some quinces, but then she rang and told us the quinces are finished and the tree is completely bare!  Hopefully I can go out there next year when the tree is in fruit.  Here is a view of the Ferguson Valley, not far from Bunbury in Western Australia.

beautiful Ferguson Valley, Western Australia
 As far as I know I have only seen a quince tree once. It was a gnarled twisted old thing with it's spreading branches propped up by an old chook (hen) shed. It looked like it hadn't been pruned in years, but we were able to pick a bucket of quinces to make quince paste. 

One of my favourite weekend getaways is the Blackwood River Cottages located on a farming property edged by the Blackwood River and forrest in Nannup (you can see some pics below). There are stairs going down to an old garden orchard and I wonder now if there is a quince tree hidden in there somewhere.....





I had heard that there was a quince tree at historical King Cottage in Bunbury and as I had to go into town this morning, I took a chance that they might be open. As it happened they had a school group visiting, so I went around to the back and quickly took this picture you see below - and yes the quince tree was bare except for a few last leaves clinging grimly to the branches. I will need to go back at the right time next season.  Built in the 1880s by Henry King, King Cottage Museum is a project of the Bunbury Historical Society and is open from 2-4pm daily. You can read more about it by clicking here - King Cottage



 

Quinces turn from green to yellow when they are ripe, and evidently are ready to pick when they start to drop from the tree. Even though the flesh is hard they bruise easily. The fruit can be stored for around three months in the refrigerator. 

They also start to brown off quickly when cut as you can see in these images. 


 But beware - the fruit is very hard and cannot be eaten raw (however out of curiosity I did taste it today - it tastes a bit like furry pear). Wash the quinces to remove the "down", peel, core, and cut them into slices, (you might want to cover them in water as you do this as they brown quickly in the air after cutting) and then poach them gently in sugar and water. The slower and longer the cooking time the deeper rose colour they will become.  I have read though it does depend a bit on the ripeness of the quinces - riper fruit turns a deeper colour. 






I found this simple delicious recipe - 

For about 4-5 quinces - peel, core and quarter the quinces (or thinner slices if large quinces). 
Put in an oven-proof dish, 
with juice and jest of 2 lemons and 1 orange (although I found that just one lemon was enough)
1 or 2 cinnamon sticks  (1 is enough)
1 and a quarter cups of raw sugar 
and about 500 mls water, enough to cover the fruit. (quantity dependent on the number and size of the quinces you have). 

Cover with a piece of damp baking paper. Bake at 160-170 C for 2-3 hours. 












 Serve them up with dollops of cream or icecream - delicious! I really can't describe the incredible aroma and sweet-tart taste. Their gorgeous perfume invades the house when I cook them, and the flavour - oh my goodness - so divine. It is indescribable. 



You can also make quince paste to spread on crackers with cheese or just spread on bread and enjoy!


 And what about a piece of delicious quince pie for afternoon tea? Photographed in beautiful afternoon diffused by clouds natural light on my patio. The beautiful china came from my mother-in-laws china cabinet. It was given to her by her work friends when she married in the early 1950s.  I think this delectable quince pie deserves beautiful china.



Quinces - have you tried them? Do you like them?  And have you seen a runcible spoon?

Thank you for stopping by - I hope you have enjoyed learning about quinces, and if you haven't tried them that you will look for them in your market in Autumn. They really are delicious! I look forward to hearing from you. 


 I am linking up to Mosaic Monday,  Our World Tuesday, Tuesday Around the World, Travel Photo Thursday, Oh the Places I've Been, and the "What's It Wednesday" party going on over at "Ivy and Elephants". Please click on the links to see fabulous contributions from around the world - virtual touring at its best!

Mosaic Monday
Our World Tuesday
Tuesday Around the World 
Travel Photo Thursday
 Oh The Places I've Been
What's It Wednesday 

You might also enjoy -

Tamarillos - lost food of the Incas 
Lemons and lemon butter 
Cumquats - from tree to marmalade 
Delighting in a bowl of cherries  


 
 

48 comments:

  1. Jill, I have never had quince. This should be remedied if I see them on the market. Hope that you do not mind if I pin this so I can remember where to find it again.

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  2. I've never had quince before but you make them look so appetizing.

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  3. These photos really are extrodinary Jill. I have a new blog for a business I have in long-term food storage and I am trying to photograph food. It does not come as natural to me as flowers so I really do admire the beauty of this work. Just one of these photos of the quince would be wonderful on a canvas in the kitchen!

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    1. thank you so much Gayle. Food photography is an art in itself which takes time to develop - not just putting a pile of apples in a bowl. I have played around with it for a couple of years now.

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  4. These look wonderful! I have never had a quince. Great photos!
    Sherry

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  5. Delightful and yummy shots! I haven't had a quince since I was a child. Might be time to make a quince pie!

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  6. What a beautiful swries of photo's. I never heard of quinces bur they look fine to me and great what you can do with them. Have a nice week

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  7. This is such a wonderful post, by the time I reached the end of it i felt like eating it.

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  8. Wow! That brought back some memories! I haven't had quinces for years and years - well not since I was a small child! Very Yummy as I remember them.

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  9. Hello Jill, honestly I have not heard of quinces. Lovely post and photos. And your recipe sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing, have a happy week!

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  10. Hello Jill, I have seen quinces and avoided them as I didn't know what to do with them, I would have been one of those ones that would have tried to eat them raw. xxx Rae

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    1. You sound similar to lots of people here, and lots of people I know. You will have to try them the next time you see them in the shop Rae - they really are easy to cook and oh so delicious.

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  11. I don`t know anything about quinces. I cook with fruits a lot. Try Chicken with a wild blueberry sauce. The problem with fruit sauces is the fruit goes to mush with heat, but with quinces that may not be the case.Great post. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  12. These loom good!

    As far as I know there are parts of Kata Tjuta that are off limits to people who have not been through the correct ceremony - its a really (really) important place for the local men.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  13. Wow, you make Quinces sound amazing. I am trying as I read to imagine what the taste would be like, the texture and the fragrances as you have done such a great job, at sharing your love for this wonderful fruit. You would think that someone would be planting orchards and orchards of this fruit.

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    1. I really wish I could describe the taste, but it is indescribable - you will just have to try them!

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  14. At first sight of the yellow color, I thought they were lemons but to my surprise they are a fruit I have never tried. I am not sure we get any here at all. I will have to look

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  15. I don't think I have had quinces before ... maybe quince jam but I'm not real sure. You are making me want to try them.

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  16. So essential a runcible is a 'spork' and spoon/fork. Who knew! Very interesting post with delightful photos. Never actually heard of a quince before but will keep an eye out for it or something made from it.

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    1. yes a "spork" or as we call it in Australia a "splade". You can see one in the second top pic with the slice of pie.
      Try quinces if you get a chance!

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  17. Jill,
    How fresh and verdant your countryside images are! Such a contrast to our intense heat and dust here in Malta where also in contrast August is not our 'last month of summer'. That is not til early November. No quinces here in the Mediterranean, though my dad had one in the UK. It was a prolific fruiter but he found them bitter, so didn't really do much with the fruit. Tree sadly died in one of the recent very wet cold winters there. Lovely post with wonderful mix of food and lifestyle pix. Must head to Oz one day.

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    1. no quinces in Malta? interesting as from what I read they are through the Mediterranean. Perhaps it is too hot. These countryside images might be green now, but wait till November and then through summer when they will be brown and dried to a crisp! My goodness you do have a long summer - and yet you are north of the Tropic of Cancer. And yes, you must visit Oz and I must visit Malta! Thanks for stopping by Liz - great to hear from you.

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  18. I don't know of anyone who grows Quince on the island, but I'd think it would grow well here. I first had quince in Denmark on the Island of Aero, where I fell in love with quince jelly. Delicious!

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  19. I could recite the poem "by heart" when I was very small (and still can), but never knew what runcible was and have never tasted a quince. My goodness, I wasn't a very curious child was I?

    What amazing food photography! Beautiful. I must look for quinces soon.

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  20. Wow wow wow, Jill! I'm so glad that you left your message on my recent post and that I popped over here for a visit. Your photography is just beautiful! Not to mention your breathtaking country! I've always wanted to visit Australia, and now I know that I must put it on my Bucket List for sure. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us!

    xoxo laurie

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  21. I may have had quince jam but never fresh (sounds not so good) or stewed. I like the look of the stewed fruit and must be more adventurous when I next see them in the market. Do they really have a three month shelf life? That's amazing. And so are your photos at tea time. I;d like some with clotted cream too.

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  22. Hi Jill, what a glorious food photography! They look so alive. I love the play with light and shadows, especially in the last one.
    I don't think I ever had a quince! Not sure if we have them here in New York.

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  23. Beautiful photography! I don't think I've ever had quince. It sounds delicious. At times, it looks like a peach, guava or lemon in some of your pictures.Love those table setting pictures.

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  24. Lovely shots - it's been a long time since I had quince.

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    1. I hope I have inspired you to buy some. Amazing how not many people seem to have heard of them, let alone tasted one. They don't know what they are missing out on!

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  25. I haven't thought of that poem in years and never knew what a runcible spoon was! I honestly can't recall is I've ever actually had quince, but your photos have me in the mood to try it -- especially in a pie.

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    1. funny isn't it how we recited the poem and didn't know what a runcible spoon was! For some reason I used to think it was an old battered metal or wooden spoon.

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  26. those look delicious, I love your basket and fruit images best

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  27. What a clever post you have written and illustrated this week. . .you've raised the bar for all of us. I've not eaten a quince nor given a thought to a runcible spoon before. . .now you have me thinking about both!

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  28. What a beautiful and informative post about a quince, a fruit most of us know little of.
    Art, poetry, history all in one post! I love it!
    Hugs,
    Patti

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  29. I don't think I've ever eaten a quince, either. They do look good. Next time I see them in a market I will buy one or two, and try them!

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  30. Dainty shot with splendid photographs....
    really, account looking interesting and informative. I glad that found your blog....

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  31. I have never heard the word "splade" so having it as an explanation of what a runcible spoon is didn't help, so thank goodness you described it. I looked up "splade" and it seems that we Americans call it a "spork" although sporks don't have a flat cutting side. Anyways, I've never had a fresh quince either although I've had them in preserves bought a fancy food shops. I'd love to see a quince tree sometime.

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  32. Lovely pictures of the quinces. And a lot of information. To be honest, I have never had one before. Need to see if I can't get my hands on some. Have a great Sunday!

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  33. We once had a quince tree in our garden in South Africa, and I never really knew what to do with them. But you have made them look divine and delicious - how I wish I'd known you as a blogger way back then :)

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    1. a quince tree in your yard, and you didn't know what to do with them - oh shame! I don't know why I don't have one in my yard - I might have to convince my husband we need one

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  34. thank you dear lovely readers. I hope I have encouraged some of you to look for quinces and try them. They really are delicious!

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  35. Hi Jill, I really enjoyed this post about the runcible spoon and the quince. Never did know what kind of spoon that was. Yes, I have seen one. Like you say, here in the U.S. we call them sporks. I have only eaten Quince once. Can't even remember what it tasted like. Guess I need to try one again. Love that botanical print and I bet the smell was fabulous. Quince baking with cinnamon, yum!
    hugs,
    Jann

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  36. Lovely post but it made me realise just how much I am missing our old orchard including the quince. :)

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  37. Quinces are among my favourite fruits - and it's not just all about the RED!!! They're marvellously photogenic and aromatic - but sadly, our wild tree down by the creek is swept bare each year by Sulphur-crested cockatoos so it's been quite a long time since I've had my fill of homemade paste, jam, baked quinces and quince pickle!! But we live in hope ...

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  38. Hello, I read your new stuff on a regular basis. Your humoristic style
    is awesome, keep up the good work!

    my site ... http://www.viewtasmania.com.au/name.asp

    ReplyDelete

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