A quince is a yellow fruit that looks similar to a pear or apple. Although it's not popular in the United States, it is often used in jellies and desserts in Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. The flesh is hard and bitter-tasting, so quince is rarely eaten raw. But the fruit is rich in pectin and tannins, making it ideal for poaching in sweet wines or other spiced liquids. When cooked, quince fruit turns a delicate pink color that is complemented nicely by a scoop of ice cream or mascarpone.
Mix the sugar, honey, water, lemon, cloves, cinnamon sticks and vanilla in a large pot. Turn on the heat to medium high and mix until the sugar is nearly dissolved.
Prepare the quince by cutting them into quarters and slicing out the seeds. Pare the quarters and slice them into eighths. Quince can be rather tough, so hold and slice them carefully so the knife doesn’t slip and cut your hand. Drop each prepared piece of quince into the poaching liquid as soon as it’s ready to prevent the liquid from browning.
Poke a hole into a piece of parchment or waxed paper with your finger and set it on top of the pot. Simmer the quince in the liquid, making sure it doesn’t boil.
Check to see if the quince is done by pricking the slices with a knife after they’ve simmered for an hour. They should be soft but not mushy. Simmer the quince until it is cooked through. Some varieties may take up to two hours to cook.
Serve the poached quince warm or at room temperature. Eat them plain or over a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert, or use them to garnish a breakfast dish like pancakes, granola or hot cereal. Poached quince will keep up to a week in the fridge, and their flavor improves over time.