Though we reflexively translate the Hebrew word “tapuach” as an apple, it isn’t clear that this is accurate. Tapuach which was the fruit of the tree of wisdom and also the paradisically scented fruit described in the Song of Songs may have been a citron, or according to some scholars a quince. “Tapuach” is also the Talmudic term for the mound of ash from a sacrifice. In the Rosh Hashana liturgy this double meaning is exploited as we eat the “tapuach” fruit as we entreat G-d to remember the would be sacrifice of Isaac.
Quinces which have a pleasingly medieval sound to them as well as a lovely pineapple like scent are botanical cousins to both apples and pear. Heavy and covered with brown fuzz, these fruits which at least in Israel ripen during the early fall are too sour to eat raw. They are also almost impossible to cut. Even my state of the art Global knife was hardly up to the challenge– I might have done better with a hacksaw. But once they are cooked with honey or sugar quinces redeem themselves. Thye made a wonderful compote–sweet, tart and aromatic all at the same time.,
6 quinces, peeled, pared and cored . Cut them into quarters and then cut through each quarter to form medium sized pieces
2/3 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
pinch of cinnamon
Combine everything and bring to a boil . Then simmer for about an hour and a half until the quinces are soft . Refrigerate and serve cold. Serves eight.