This year, inspired by another bumper crop of quinces and knowing what rubbish I was at making jellies with them, I thought I’d add them to my collection of home-made spirits. The aroma of these unpromising looking fruit is captivating a complex perfume that begs to be made into a fine liqueur.
Last year I grated them with a food processor and added them to vodka with a drizzle of honey from our hives. This time, after removing the core and finely chopping them, I placed the fragrant morsels in bell jars and covered them with cognac. I added a piece of cinnamon to one jar and a few cloves to another, vanilla bean to a third and a few peppercorns to a forth. I sealed the jars and stuck them in the back of a laundry room, as a general rule I shake daily for a week, weekly for a month and monthly for a year.
Quince brandy - or the sweetened version called ratafia that I made last year, usually made with a base of vodka, has been around for hundreds of years. I found recipes.
As with most things, the final taste has to be up to individual preference. I like mine lightly spiced, soaking the concoction for a year will extract plenty of flavor from whatever spice you chose so go lightly on quantities, or dispense with additional flavors altogether. This year I am leaving the infusion unsweetened, figuring that I can always add sugar or honey later.