How to Make Perfect Baked Spiced Quinces

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Quince trees were a dime a dozen in the backyards of the little Freestate dorp I grew up in, except ours, for some reason. My mom had a sizeable backyard orchard with apricots, plums, peaches, apples and even a walnut tree, but no quince. Nada. Niks, Zero. And she was always somewhat evasive when I asked her about it.

Perhaps it’s because quinces are often considered not easy to cook properly, and they are certainly not easy to love. If you’ve ever winced at the gritty texture of baked quinces between your teeth, or shuddered at the sickly sweet, gloopy pulp of overcooked ones, you might understand why my mom simply chose to give quinces a wide berth. There must have been quince-related trauma at some point.

I’ve had my fair share of personal quince disasters, and here it is perhaps wise to caution readers that if you’ve never made a recipe before, it is generally not a great idea to start with 10kg of the ingredient for it. Let that just lie there.

There are a number of ways to cook quinces in savoury ways, too. One happy upshot of posting the photos for this dish on Twitter and Facebook were the conversations that ensued. I ended up having a lovely chat with two Pakistani food bloggers on Twitter, one of whom told me about the lavish use of quinces in Kashmiri cooking. She’s promised to send me recipes for spicy quince dishes that I in turn promised to reblog here. I’ve also been promised some egte boerekos quince recipes on Facebook, which I shall post here as soon as I’ve tried them.

This has all helped to make me like quinces considerably more than before, I must say.

Last week I timidly purchased three medium sized quinces from the local farmers’ market. They were small enough not to put the fear of Quincedom into me, so I decided to try my hand at one of Maggie Beer’s recipes from her famed and fabulous cookbook Maggie’s Harvest. Maggie is a renowned Australian cook and food writer and if there’s one thing she knows about, it’s quinces. I only had 3 instead of the 6 required for her recipe, so I halved all her original quantities, and added the spices. I also baked the quinces in the oven rather than potroasting them on top of the stove, and will definitely lessen the amount of sugar to 3/4, if not 1/2 of Maggie Beer’s recipe. I give my adapted recipe below. It’s so easy, and so confoundingly delicious, you’ll wonder why you’ve never made it before.

Spiced quinces ready to go into the oven for 5 hours
Spiced quinces ready to go into the oven for 5 hours

Perfect Oven Baked Spiced Quinces

The quinces keep well in the fridge for a week or two in a Tupperware or airtight container.

Serves 10-12


6 medium large quinces

3-4 cups sugar

4 cups water

4 cloves, 3 star anise, 2 cinnamon sticks, 4 cardamom pods, 3-4 thin slices fresh ginger


1. Preheat oven to 160 C.

2. Wash 6 medium quinces, halve or quarter them lengthways with peel on and pips in, and place in an ovenproof dish just large enough to fit the quinces snugly.

3. Pour over 3 – 4 cups sugar, dependly how sweet you like it. 4 cups will be very, very sweet. Pour over 4 cups (1 l) water.

4. Scatter over 4 cloves, 3 star anise, 2 cinnamon sticks, 4 cardamom pods and 3-4 thin slices fresh ginger. Cover tightly with foil or the lid of the dish and bake at 160 C for 5 hours. You might like to check halfway through and add a cup or two of water if it’s running dry.

5. Remove from oven and serve hot or cold with thick, cold cream, or alongside roast pork, lamb or game as a relish.

Yayy! You’ve learnt how to make baked spiced quinces!

Cook’s Tip: You might like to try adding 3 fresh bay leaves and a pinch of grated nutmeg to the spices.

Spiced baked quinces
Spiced baked quinces
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Celebrating life with food, wine, friends & happiness! Writer, cook and blogger. Author of four cookbooks. Passionately South African, proudly Capetonian.