Saturday, December 12, 2009

Apples and Quinces Compote (Apple Sauce)

My grand-mother used to say that “you don’t have to be hungry to eat apple sauce”. She had a lot of apple trees in her fields, some, les pommes à cidre, dedicated to her home-made apple cider and Calvados, and others, les pommes à couteau, just for us to eat. When the apples were not good-looking enough for us, she would just cook them in her pressure cooker (with skin, seeds, and occasionally worms (hey,  hey were local and really organic!!)). Then it was my job to make la compote (the apple sauce) using her old vegetable hand mill. I don’t know how many kilos of apple sauce I made with her over the years… but except for the worms, I never got tired of eating it afterward (preferably tedious). Nowadays, I cook apple sauce a lot for us. I find that home-made apple sauce tastes better than the one you can find in jars. Besides, as always when you cook from scratch, you control the ingredients (no salt, no preservatives or other undefined “natural flavors”) and you can also play with the fruits (rhubarb,  quince, banana, strawberries) and spices (cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom) to achieve different tastes.
I serve apple sauce at the end of the meal in place of fresh fruits; sometimes I serve it in the morning with sugar/jam/chestnut spread. When they were just starting on solids, I would just make a batch without  ugar/butter for them. As they grew older (past 12 months), I would serve them the same way as for my  husband and I. Unlike my grand-mother, I peel the apples, seed them and make sure no worm ever get into the apple sauce! I don’t use my pressure cooker either (“strange” might you find!). I use a regular pot or, if I am making a lot, my Dutch oven and let is cook on very slow heat for about 30 minutes.

I was happy to find quinces (coings in French) at the market the other day (since then, I saw that my local supermarket was carrying some). Quinces are incredible fruits to me. They have a very distinguishable flavor that you either like or dislike. They also look like a mix between apples and pears, but unlike them, you can’t eat them raw. My parents have a quince tree in their garden so when we were younger we ate a lot of them in the Fall if the tree carried a lot (some years, we would not get any!), mostly in apple sauce. Nowadays, my mother gives them away to her neighbors who make quinces jelly and pâtes de fruits. I am no big fan of quince jelly and pâtes de fruits (too much sugar for me)… but I really like quinces in my apple sauce. One quince is enough to perfume a pot of apple sauce. For stronger flavor, add another quince… but don’t try to
add more. One other thing to know about quinces is that they are really hard to peel/cut… but do cook in no time! Another thing (for another post), they make a great side-dish for meat if you like the sweet-salty mix. Bon Appétit!


- Apples (about 2 or 3 per persons), peeled and cut in pieces
- 1/4 stick of butter
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 1 quince, peeled and sliced

  • In a pot, over slow heat, put the butter, the apples, the quince and the sugar together. Add 2 Tablespoons of water so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.
  • Cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes
  • Blend or just puree with a fork depending on the consistency you want to achieve
  • Add more sugar to taste.
My Personal Comments
  • I find 1/2 price apples at the farmers' market. I purchase them for apple sauce. I try to avoid the Granny Smith because they are too tart. Good apples for apple sauce are JonaGold, Golden, Gala.
  • If you are making it for children older than 12 months, you could sweeten it with honey.
  • I don't like it cold; I generally heat it up a little bit in the microwave before serving.


  1. I have always been curious about quince. I've never had one before. Your story about the worms in the apples reminds me of guavas. I hate the worms but it's such a great fruit that it's worth the pain of searching out the worms.

  2. je confirme, la "compote de pommes" est dans la famille un grand classique - je l'aime avec des morceaux!

    par contre les coings, je te les laisse!