Market Report: Bright, golden, and tart, it's the season for quince

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Becky Terry shows off the quince she brings to market. Photo by Gillian Ferguson/KCRW

One of the first signs of fall at many Southern California farmer's markets are a fuzzy-looking, pear-like fruit — quince. Most of the production is centered in the San Joaquin Valley. Becky Terry of Terry Ranch in Tulare County brings quince to market. Filled with pectin, quince needs to be cooked. It's popular in baking and works well in a Middle Eastern lamb stew. The longer quinces sit, the more fragrant they'll become, releasing an apple scent with vanilla overtones. Terry ships across the country and as far as Japan.

Uli Nasibova of Uli's Gelato sources seasonal fruits and herbs for her gelato. When she is not making frozen treats, she is cooking for her family. Part of her weeknight repertoire is a chicken dish using quince. Nasibova, who says the balance of tart and sweet won't overpower a savory dish, uses the fruit in a sauce. She caramelizes onions in sugar then browns chicken thighs in the same pan. As the chicken cooks, she'll add back in the quince with the skin and the onion. Cover and heat for 15 minutes. The final touches are tomatoes (either peeled and fresh or canned pulp), saffron, and potatoes.