Here in Australia, quince is a staple autumn fruit, the way apples are back home. Quince has seemed to be less commonly found in the US, though recently I've heard they are cropping up at some farmers markets - if you can find them, take advantage!
Quince belongs to the same family as apples and pears, but are too tough to eat unless cooked down for some time. When you slice them open, the flesh is pale, like a pear, but as they cook, they take on this deep, ruby-rose color and become delicate and tender - it's magic. They are complemented by spices and flavors that do well with other autumnal fruit, like cinnamon, vanilla, and cloves.
There is a giant quince tree out at the farm. For months, we have waited patiently as the branches became heavier and heavier, finally ready to bear their fruit in early April. Now we have a surplus, and jars of the poached beauties line the shelves of the fridge and fill up the freezer drawers.
We tend to eat them in the simplest (and arguably best) way, with ice cream or yogurt. You can also purée and use them anywhere you might use apple sauce. And certainly do not waste that precious poaching liquid - use it again on your next batch of quince, or reduce and incorporate it into sauces, marinades or baked goods.
2 cups hard cider
6 cups water
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
4 quinces, peeled and quartered
In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, simmer cider, water, and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Lower heat. Add vanilla bean and quinces. Cover and simmer until quinces are very tender and have turned ruby red, pushing down with a wooden spoon occasionally, 2 - 2 1/2 hours. Strain quinces from their poaching liquid; reserve liquid for another purpose. Serve quinces warm or cold with vanilla ice cream or yogurt.