Ann M. Evans
This recipe is inspired by Marc Vayssières, a French-born Davis resident with a prolific pineapple quince tree in his backyard. I first met him at the Davis Farmers Market while in search of quince. I asked many farmers for quince, none had them. About the fifth farmer, I heard someone inquire of me in a French accent if I was looking for quince. I said yes. He said he had a great tree in his backyard and I was welcome to come and pick some. I went over in the next several days. I’ve been picking from his tree every year since then, about 2004, in trade for some products from my glass pantry.
Few people can guess what fruit in in this drink. I always ask them to try, and say, yes, it smells like an apple pie baking in a floral shop. Quince is my favorite ancient fruit, and I make this drink, as well as a Spicy Juniper Quince Chutney and a Quince Mustardo.
One half-gallon vodka (cheapest you can find)
One-gallon glass jar
Quince fruit (about 8-10 depending on the size)
Two vanilla beans
One-half cup sugar
Putting It Together:
Wash off the fuzz on the outside of the quince and cut the quince into eighths. Core and seeds are fine to leave in. Fill the gallon jar with the quince and then cover the quince with vodka. Make sure all the fruit is covered (if it emerges it will get brown.) The alcohol extracts the flavor of the quince. You may add vanilla beans at this time (or cinnamon bark, cloves, star anise.) What you add is a matter of taste; the main point is not to over power the delicate perfumed aroma of the quince. Let the jar sit in a window or on a sunny porch so that it heats up during the day, anywhere from three weeks to three months.
When you are ready to bottle your quince infused vodka, filter the liquid through cheesecloth and put it in a bowl. This should remove all the quince pieces.
Make heavy syrup – one to one sugar and water (like 2 cups sugar in 2 cups water) heated in a small pan over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. (I keep this on hand in the refrigerator as it is good to add to home made lemonade, or to infuse with fresh ginger root for a ginger syrup for drinks.)
Add the heavy sugar syrup to the vodka, starting with one-half cup sugar dissolved in one-half cup water. Add more if your palate wants a sweeter digestif. Decant the liquid into a cute bottle with a lid and store in a cool, dark place. Your drink is ready immediately.
Serve chilled after dessert, in small, digestif glasses.