A nearby farmer, whose commercial preoccupation is to encourage many thousands of unhappy hens to provide the nation’s supermarkets with inexpensive eggs, has at least one redeeming feature; he has a quince tree on his farm and he has no idea what to do with it.

The fruit from his tree are closely related to apples and pears, but lack their conveniently edible appeal. As for looks, quinces in the beauty contest of orchards fruits don’t even make the shortlist. They have a knobbly, awkward shape with a grey pubic fur on their surface. Having overcome that thought, you find that they are virtually inedible fresh off the tree and require nothing short of a meat cleaver to cut through their tough and spongy flesh. So one can see the farmer’s position on this, which, I admit, I choose not to enlighten.

So once a year, as autumn shows its hand, I am summoned to collect the many windfalls that would otherwise clog his ride-on mower and I drive back to my kitchen with a back seat brimming with lumpy yellow fruit. The drive is a mere 5 minutes but in that short time the first of quince’s secrets begin their reveal. The car fills with an alluring fragrance, a heady, perfumed scent of ripe citrus, vanilla pods and freshly cut apples, somehow at odds with the fruit’s unappealing features.

Back in the kitchen comes the second reveal. Once peeled, lopped into pieces and cooked, that early alluring bouquet now matures into an intoxicating perfume, while the fruit turns from a milky yellow to a deep ruby hue. A set jelly, called Membrillo in Spain, is about to grace your table. And it keeps almost indefinitely.

Served all over Spain with slices of aged Manchego cheese – an Iberian ploughman’s lunch.

A trusted recipe comes from Quinces. Growing and Cooking (2014) Jane McMorland Hunter and Sue Dunster