‘Quince challenged me’: how to cook, eat and enjoy seven of the world’s most difficult fruits

quince challenged me how to cook eat and enjoy seven of the worlds most difficult fruits

The Book of Difficult Fruit by Kate Lebo isn’t technically a cookbook. It’s a collection of personal essays about family, illness and nature, each linked to a different fruit that – over the years, warranted or otherwise – has developed something of a bad reputation. It is a beautiful read, and each chapter ends with Lebo’s attempts to make use of these under-appreciated foods. I spoke to her about eight of the fruits she includes, what makes them difficult, and what on earth you’re supposed to do with them.

A jar of quince jam. Photograph: ognianm/Getty Images/iStockphoto

The first time Lebo saw a quince, she took a bite out of it. And then spat it out. “The truth is that any quince worth its salt is so astringent that it will wick the water from your mouth,” she says. “It’s sour. It is very difficult to taste the fruity flavours through the astringency and the sourness. I was just so shocked and betrayed, but in a fun way. This fruit had challenged me.” She quickly learned that they are much more palatable cooked. “Quince can be the basis of a bunch of different sweet preserves,” she says now. “I will make jelly from quince, for example, and then I will save that jelly and stir it into a preserve that doesn’t have a lot of natural pectin; for example, a peach preserve…

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