Every fall, I survey the bin of quinces next to the Empire apples at the farmers’ market, and I vow that this will be the year I develop a relationship with the quirky fruit. A relative of apples and pears, the quince is commonly sold when still green-skinned with an alarming (but harmless) coat of “fur” on the exterior. When a quince ripens, its skin turns yellow and the flesh becomes absurdly fragrant. In Turkey, where the fruits are a native plant, they’re left to ripen until they can be eaten raw right off the tree. I like to buy them when they’re turning from light green to yellow and let them to ripen a few days before gently poaching them in dry white wine with sugar. I find poaching quinces is a great way to soften the texture while preserving their delicate flavor. Eat them with the cooking liquid and a scoop of ice cream or try this fabulous recipe for quince tarte tatin.

Alex Guarnaschelli is the chef of the New York City restaurant Butter.