There are probably no finer quinces than those growing on Naxos, very large, with a delicate perfume, a luminous-green gold in colour, and not covered with the usual down.
Kyría Erýnni gave me a basket of these quinces one autumn day and installed herself in our dwelling to ‘supervise’ the making of the conserve. This is what she made me do.
Wipe and weigh the fruit and acquire an equal amount of sugar. (I had to dash to the village.) Peel, core and cut into equal segments a precise ¾ cm thick (say ¼"), putting the cut fruit into acidulated water (add lemon juice) or it discolours, and using a stainless steel knife. Leave overnight in an earthenware pot.
Next day put the quinces into a large preserving pan with the acidulated water. Put the pan on the fire and bring to the boil, from time to time dipping a sprig of basil into the water, sprinkling with it any pieces of quince not totally immersed. Simmer the fruit very gently until it is tender and has turned a rosy pink. Turn off the heat and wait 10 minutes. Then pour the sugar over the fruit and juice and bring to the boil as fast as possible. In the course of boiling up, the quinces begin to turn a deep rose red. After 10 minutes or so the fruit is transparent and the syrup at setting point. This conserve has a perfect colour, flavour and consistency. Put in a few sprigs of basil in the last few minutes. Store in glass pots.
Although living now in the land of la cotognata where we immediately planted quince trees, I stick to this recipe of the old Naxian lady, but should add that Apulian quinces, being more ‘woody’, take longer in boiling up.