Gervase Markham, on Preserving Quinces in Cider

To preserve Quinces for Kitchin service: Take sweet Apples, and stamp them as you do for Cider, then press them through a bag as you do Verjuyce, then put it into a firkin wherein you will keep your quinces, and then gather your quinces, and wipe them clean, and neither core them nor pare them, but only take the blacks from the tops, and so put them into the firkin of Cider, and therein you may keep them all the year very fair, and take them not out of the liquor, but as you are ready to use them, whether it be for pyes, or any other purpose, and then pare them, and core them as you think good.

Gervase Markham, The English Huswife (1615)

Via the Foods of England Project, here’s a really interesting seventeenth century method for preserving your quince surplus.

Presumably the apple juice will ferment and become cider in due course, but what effect would that have on the structural integrity of the quinces? They’re really quite solid fruit, so I guess they’d stay firm, but they’d gradually absorb some of the qualities and flavour of the cider, as well as the alcohol content, perhaps. (Boozy quince pies! Quince jelly with a kick!)

Would they lose their own, unique flavour ad aroma in the process, though? Or would they impart their own qualities to the cider?

Also: stamping apples for cider? Either that’s a seventeenth-century term for pressing that I’ve not come across before, or it used to be common practice to crush the fruit under the heel of your boot or, perhaps more likely, with a mallet?

Here are a couple of thoughts on the above, from cider-maker Barry Masterson of Kertelreiter Cider in North Baden, Germany:

And further thoughts, from Ray the cider-maker at Torkard Cider in Nottinghamshire, England:

Anyhow, are there any cider makers out there who might want to give Markham’s method a go and see what happens? If you do then please let me know how your experiment turns out, via the comments. Or, even better, send me details and photos by email and I’ll write it up as a blog post for you.

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