Similar in appearance to pears, quince fruit is bright yellow and pome shaped with a knobbly shape. They aren’t as popular as they once were but they do appear to be making a comeback of their own.
They are not often eaten raw because they are firm and quite sharp in taste. Instead, they are cooked to make things like quince jelly or alcohol.
Quinces are native to the Hyrcanian forest (which is south of the Caspian Sea) but became widespread in other countries such as Greece and Israel.
They cope considerably well in the UK climate – and a quince tree is an attractive addition to any garden orchard. Quince is sometimes confused with the Chinese Quince, these are a close relative and sometimes used as a substitute if quince isn’t available.
What is Quince Fruit?
Quince (pronounced Kwins) is a somewhat elusive fruit that not everyone has heard of, let alone tasted. Unlike most fruits, even when it has fully ripened it is not particularly palatable and needs cooking.
Quince fruit is steeped in Greek legends and was a food source ever-present in medieval banquets.
This fruit has a shape similar to a cross between an apple and a pear, with a hard golden yellow skin. In the UK, quinces can be harvested in October and November, when you can smell their strong aroma.
What Does Quince Taste Like?
Eaten in its raw state, quince has quite a sour taste, along with a gritty texture which is not very pleasant.
Once you cook quince the taste changes to a much more pleasant one – the process releases the natural sweetness. It also changes the texture which becomes much smoother and more palatable.
How to Eat Quince Fruit?
Certainly, the most popular way to eat quince is by cooking it first and then using it in your favourite recipe.
You can leave the skin on when cooking the fruit or you can remove it if you prefer. You can use quince as an alternative to apples or pears in desserts such as pies. Due to the pectin content, quince can be made into marmalade, jam, or jelly.
Quince Fruit Facts
- Scientific Name: Cydonia oblonga
- Fruit Family: Rosaceae
- Related to: apples and pears
How to Grow Quince Fruit
Quince trees have the advantage of not being prone to as many pests as other varieties meaning they can become very productive.
They make an attractive garden feature too, with their pale pink flowers followed by golden fruits. They have a very strong aroma during October and November and it is this aroma that tells you the quinces are ready to be harvested.
Of course, if space is limited, you can opt for a smaller tree such as one of the dwarf quince tree varieties. This will still produce lots of fruit but stays at a modest height, making it ideal for the smallest of garden spaces.
Your quince tree can be planted around March time, and any pruning duties will be very minimal. They do require lots of water during dry spells and they also benefit from a good quality fertiliser. Well-drained soil is a must for quince trees to thrive and there are many types of self-fertile varieties.
Harvesting Quince Fruit
Top Tip: You are not waiting for quinces to soften before you pick them – quince doesn’t soften. Instead, you should look for the following indicators your quinces are ready to be harvested:
- They will turn from pale yellow to a deeper, golden yellow.
- You’ll be able to smell their readiness – they develop an incredibly aromatic smell.
- The longer they are left on the tree the better as the flavour only improves.
- Make sure you pick them before the danger of frost is present.
- Once you have collected them from the tree, store them for around 6 weeks to further ripen.
How to Use Quince
Quince makes the perfect Autumn food – whether it is a heartwarming fruit pie or some infamous quince jelly.
Quince contains pectin which makes it perfect for jams, jellies, and marmalades. It can also be roasted in the oven as an accompaniment to a meal of your choice. It can be cooked into a puree and used as a cereal topper as a substitute for sugar.
Important: You need to remove the seeds before cooking your quince as they are not edible and should be discarded. They contain cyanide so should be binned rather than putting them out in the compost heap.
Quinces are making a comeback and this is largely due to their nutritional value. Despite being an unusual fruit that needs to be cooked, it does contain an abundance of goodness.
In quince you can find:
- Vitamin C, B1 & B6
How Many Calories in Quince Fruit?
One average-sized quince has 52 calories and contains 14g of carbohydrates and 0.3g of protein.
Quince Health Benefits
Quince trees are not only pretty to look at, but they are also a low-calorie, nutrient-laden fruit ready for you to reap the benefits from.
Rich in Antioxidants
With the ability to reduce inflammation and decrease metabolic stress, quinces can help keep the body healthy. The antioxidants found in quinces can also help protect against heart disease.
Aids IBS Symptoms
Traditional medicine practices combine quinces with other natural products, to help with digestive issues. It is argued to help IBS symptoms along with other gut issues.
Decreases Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is no fun and can be quite problematic in that it can stop you from going about your daily routine.
Quince syrup has been found to go a long way in helping symptoms such as burping and abdominal pain.
Helps With Morning Sickness
Instead of making your way through a packet of ginger biscuits, instead, reach for some quince syrup. Healthier and more nutritious than biscuits, it’s believed quinces can keep pregnancy nausea at bay.
If you still need to know more fruity facts about quinces, here’s some last gasp gems to sate your curiousity!
Quince paste can last beyond 3 months once it has been cooled and stored correctly in the refrigerator. Mebrillo can then be used with cheese or melted down to use in a dessert.
Yes, technically you can eat raw quince, it won’t do you any harm. However, it’s not widely enjoyed in its raw state as it is firm and sour. You will have a far better experience by cooking the quince first.
Quince will go with a variety of meats and will complement their flavours well. You could add your quince jelly to pork, chicken and turkey.