A couple weeks ago I was lucky enough to make a connection with another Timebank member at our ‘Third Thursday’ Open House. That evening, we listened to a presentation by Jill Kemble of the Senior Center of West Seattle. However, I noticed that there were many other connections being made. Two people connected over ukulele playing, another made a connection with therapy dog visits, and I heard others sharing recipes of various potluck dishes we enjoyed that evening. We were a small, but mighty group that night. On evenings where we have more attendees, there are many more connections made!
My connection involved Kay, and another Timebank member, Mary. The three of us talked about the abundance of produce you can find in your own backyard. We had all done some urban gleaning to a degree, with Kay being the most experienced of the group. She had a lead on a quince tree located in West Seattle that needed to be harvested for the season. Mary and I were invited to join her in harvesting all the fruit we could get to. I eagerly wrote the planned date on my (stuffed to the gills) calendar!
The day came and we all brought supplies: gloves, sticks or broom handles to help us get to the high branches, a step stool, bags or boxes for our haul, and a sense of adventure. After a good hour, we had harvested the entire tree and were left with beautiful quince. I’d estimate my large bag weighed in around 25-30 pounds.
I don’t know about you, but quince is not a ‘common’ fruit. I had worked with it before, but in very small quantities. I think of it as a luxury item, not something I’m all that familiar with. What was I going to do with ALL THESE QUINCE?! Lucky me, I’m always up for a challenge. My bags of quince became membrillo, or quince paste. The photos I’ve included here are what a whole quince looks like, what a halved quince looks like, and a nicely cooked quince ready for pureeing.
The process is simple (famous last words): Core and prepare the quince as you would if you were making apple or pear sauce. I leave the thin skins on, but make sure to remove the fuzz on the quince. Boil until fork tender, then puree. No joke, I was left with 18 cups of quince puree. Then comes the not-for-the-faint-of-heart part: Add equal amounts sugar to your puree and cook until the sauce starts to smell of wine and is of a rosy color. There are several different ways to process it for use later. Warning: This much quince paste is an all day project perfect for our current weather.
After I completed this project on a rainy Saturday, I was ready to share my creation. Even though quince paste keeps a good year in the refrigerator, there is no way I’ll be eating 18 cups. I happen to participate in another community organization that is focused on bartering homemade, handmade, and home grown items. Backyard Barter just happened to have their monthly event the next day. I bartered quince paste for grape juice, baked goods, home grown produce, jams, and pickles. We have at least 5 Timebank members that participate frequently in the barter group; if you have interest, join us! You’ll also be seeing some of this lovely concoction at upcoming West Seattle Timebank events.
Traditional timebanking or not, this was a very satisfying exchange that created community for the three of us. For Kay’s hard work and knowledge, I eagerly gave her some time. Timebanking can take many forms and reap rewards beyond simply getting the job done or volunteering for an organization. Your next opportunity to make an unexpected connection is October 20th when we host the Urban Homestead Foundation.
A history of quince, from a botanical point of view: http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/q/quince04.html
A recipe similar to what I used for quince paste: http://www.alwaysorderdessert.com/2008/11/how-to-make-homemade-membrillo-quince.html