Quince Slices in a Spiced Chai Syrup

quince in chai syrup

I am a coffee drinker. Growing up in a cafe-loving city like Portland, OR, it was hard not to pick up the habit during my early high school years. However, every 18 months or so, I cut way back on coffee and switch to black tea. I don’t do it intentionally, there just comes a morning when I wake up craving the nuance of tea.

quince and chai

I am currently smack in the midst of a tea phase. However, this one isn’t as inexplicable as the previous ones have been. I trace it directly to a recent preserving project that Alexis from teaspoons & petals and I recently tried.

Wanting to see how fall fruit would work with a tea infusion, we imagined a few small jars filled with sliced poached quince suspended in a spiced chai syrup (our first collaboration was a peach oolong jelly) and set a date to make it happen.

making tea syrup

The morning of our canning appointment, Alexis picked up an assam-based chai spiked with cinnamon and cloves from Philadelphia’s House of Tea while I ran to Reading Terminal Market to pick up 4 fragrant quince. After washing them well to remove any fuzz from their skin, we chopped the quince into slices, taking care to remove any hard inner bits and put them in water to poach until tender (this took approximately 30 minutes).

poached quince into the syrup

While they cooked, we made the syrup. I combined 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar with 2 cups of water (this makes a fairly heavy syrup) in a medium saucepan and simmered until the sugar was entirely dissolved. Alexis measured out two generous tablespoons of the tea and tucked it into a paper infuser.

poached quince slices

We let the tea steep in the syrup for 5 minutes, tasting after the time was up to ensure that the flavor intensity was where we wanted it (it was). When the quince slices were tender but not falling apart, we lifted them out of the water with a spider and dropped them into the syrup.

Then it was just standard canning procedure. Funnel slices into prepared jars. Top with syrup. Remove air bubbles and adjust syrup levels (1/2 inch headspace, please). Wipe rims and apply lids and rings. Process in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes.

quince in chai syrup

The result of this experiment are three half pints jars of the most wonderfully spiced slices of quince ever. The syrup is also a revelation, we had a bit leftover and I spent a couple of days making myself spiced chai sodas with sparkling water. I’ve served one jar with slices of this gingerbread (good on its own, it’s a marvel when drizzled with this syrup and topped with a couple slices of quince).

The only thing I’d do differently in the future is that I’d wait to make the syrup until the quince were finished poaching and use some of that liquid. That way, I’d get even more of the quince flavor into the final product.

If quince are already gone from your area, you might try this recipe with slices of pear instead. I imagine they’d be wonderful with a spiced syrup like this one. Skip the poached step and instead just cook the pears in the finished syrup for a moment or two. Imagine that served with some creamy cheese. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it!

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29 responses to “Quince Slices in a Spiced Chai Syrup”

  1. Looks like I’ll be making this with pears. My canning stuff is away until after Christmas, but I’ll need something to do while I halfheartedly watch football on New Years Day.

  2. That looks wonderful and is exactly how I reinterpreted your original tea infusion recipe.

    I poached used white peaches and left the slices in the syrup and didn’t boil it into a jelly, although I thought that a jelly with peaches suspended in it would have been great too.

    I recently gave away jars of preserves to office mates for the holidays. The white peach tea was very much enthused over and desired since I only had one jar.

    Btw, thanks for a great year of preserving. I always make a 1/4 jar of all my preserves to give out as gifts and this year many of my recipes came from you.

  3. The chai idea is fantastic. Last year I made quince slices (recipe on my blog) in vanilla syrup which like your batch in chai, were so very nice. I’ve been hunting for quince here in Northern California but haven’t struck gold yet. Membrillo has been on the mind but your slices may take precedence 😉

  4. Your chai idea sounds really nice. Next time, try adding a little sugar and a squeeze of lemon to the quince poaching liquid and poach the slices for a little longer so the quince turns a lovely blush color. Quince on!

  5. What a splendid idea! I can’t wait to try this recipe in autumn when quinces will be in abundance in the garden of our French home. Thank you for sharing.

  6. “If quince are already gone from your area, you might try this recipe with slices of pear instead.”

    Or you know, you never have quince where you live. It is something totally foreign to me, though now I know what to try with it should I ever find it. 🙂

  7. Dang. I just picked some quince today and set about to make this, and some jelly. But, while I was putting i a load of laundry, the slices boiled and turned to mush. So into the steam juicer with it….

  8. This sounds delicious! I’m thinking of trying this recipe with pears– I have tons of on my kitchen floor right now, just waiting to be canned. 🙂 If I use pears, however, should I add lemon juice? Thanks!

  9. I am wondering if you have done this without pre-poaching the quince–just add them with the syrup and tea infusion. (call me lazy)

    I have about 100 pounds of quince to process this week, and this looks like a fun new recipe to try.

  10. I love grabbing an idea and running with it. I had an abundance of peach chunks from salvaging about twenty pounds of battered “seconds” peaches, plenty of jam and peach butter already made, no room in the freezer so I knew I needed to can them, but I can buy ordinary canned peaches at any grocery store. The “spiced peaches” from the Ball book were a bit blah, but I saw this post and yes, chai was the answer! I chucked a handful of herbal chai tea bags in the pot of peaches with a hearty dollop of local honey (which bears about as much resemblance to supermarket honey as a Bentley does to a bicycle), cooked it slowly – almost more steeping it – until the peach pieces were spicy and just-maybe-thinking-about-getting-tender, and the peaches put off SO much juice while cooking that I ended up canning in a chai-flavored, lightly-sweetened peach juice rather than syrup. (Of course I fished out the tea bags and kept count!) There was a surprising amount of that delicious nectar left over, and it is divine splashed into seltzer or used to flavor water kefir or kombucha tea, so I filtered out the solid bits and bottled it up!

    (You should SEE the bags of peelings and trimmings I’m accumulating to make peach honey…)

  11. Hi! I was wondering if the syrup could be made with honey rather than sugar? Thanks for the guidance and yummy recipes!!

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