What is Quince?
Quince is a fruit that is similar in appearance to a pear, and bright golden-yellow when mature. It’s scientific name is Cydonia oblonga and it is the only member of its genus. Unlike an apple or pear you can’t simply bite into a quince, which has a tough rind and flesh with a less than pleasant taste. It’s golden in color, but the flesh turns light pink and becomes sweet when cooked. Quince can be made into jam or jelly, or can be baked or poached as a dessert.
The health benefits of quince include its ability to prevent cancer, aid in weight loss, improve digestive health, reduce cholesterol, and boost the immune system. It also prevents gastrointestinal diseases, soothes inflammation, improves the health of your skin, decreases blood pressure, prevents allergic reactions, and stimulates circulation in the cardiovascular
History Of Quince
The fruit was known to the Akkadians, who called it supurgillu; Arabic سفرجل al safarjal “quinces” (collective plural).as well as in Judea of Israel during the Mishnaic era where it was called “Perishin” (פרישין collective plural, or sing. “Prish”);quince flourished in the heat of the Mesopotamian plain, where apples did not. It was cultivated from an archaic period around the Mediterranean. The Greeks associated it with Cydonia on Crete, as the “Cydonian pome”, and Theophrastus, in his Enquiry into Plants, noted that quince was one of many fruiting plants that do not come true from seed. As a sacred emblem of Aphrodite, a quince figured in a lost poem of Callimachus that survives in a prose epitome: seeing his beloved in the courtyard of the temple of Aphrodite, Acontius plucks a quince from the “orchard of Aphrodite”, inscribes its skin and furtively rolls it at the feet of her illiterate nurse, whose curiosity aroused, hands it to the girl to read aloud, and the girl finds herself saying “I swear by Aphrodite that I will marry Acontius”. A vow thus spoken in the goddess’s temenos cannot be broken. Pliny the Elder mentions “numerous varieties” of quince in his Natural History and describes four. The season of ripe quinces is brief: the Roman cookbook De re coquinaria of “Apicius” specifies in attempting to keep quinces, to select perfect unbruised fruits and keep stems and leaves intact, submerged in honey and reduced wine.
Nutrition Value of Quince
Quince is a rich source of vitamin C, zinc, potassium, copper, iron, and dietary fiber. It is also rich in certain organic compounds like catechin, epicatechin, limonene, and various other phytonutrients, all of which contribute to the health benefits of quince.
Amount per 100mg
- Calcium 11mg
- Iron 0.7 mg
- Magnesium 8 mg
- Phosphorus 17mg Quince
- Potassium 197 mg
- Sodium 4 mg
- Zinc 0.04 mg
- Vitamin C 15 mg
- Thiamin 0.02 mg
- Riboflavin 0.03 mg
- Niacin 0.2 mg
- Vitamin B-6 0.04 mg
- Folate 3µg
- Vitamin A 2µg
- Vitamin A, IU [IU] 40
- Fatty acids, total saturated [g] 0.01
- Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g] 0.04
- Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g] 0.05
- Cholesterol 0 mg
Amazing Health Benefits of Quince
Like most fruits, quince is rich in nutrients like Vitamins A, B and C, fiber, as well as minerals like potassium, copper, selenium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, iron, and magnesium. It is low in fat. The rich nutritional value of quince makes it beneficial for your health in the following ways:
1. Reduces Cancer Risk
The high level of antioxidants, including phenolic and phytonutrient compounds, found in quince is very effective in neutralizing or eliminating free radicals in the body. Free radicals are the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause healthy cells to mutate or die. The antioxidant compounds found in quince have been directly connected to
reduced chances of developing various types of cancer.
2. Aids in Weight Loss
Quince is high in dietary fiber, like most fruits, and the significant levels of fiber mean that your gastrointestinal system works more efficiently and regularly. You will have more energy and keep your excess weight down by improving your digestive health.
3. Treats Gastrointestinal Diseases
Dietary fiber help prevent certain gastrointestinal conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), various cancers, or diverticulitis. The fiber in quince contains catechin and epicatechin which bind with certain cancer-causing toxins that are found in the colon, thereby protecting the mucous membrane of this important organ system.
4. Skin Health
Quince has high level of antioxidants and vitamins which are beneficial for keeping the skin healthy and young. Antioxidants eliminate the damage that free radicals cause to skin cells, thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles, eliminating blemishes, and helping to defend the skin against the effects of UV radiation.
5. Blood Pressure Regulation
Quince has potassium which is essential for maintaining blood pressure and facilitating effective fluid transfer in the body’s cells. Potassium acts as a vasodilator and causes the blood vessels and arteries to relax, thereby reducing the strain on the cardiovascular system. This can decrease the chances of developing conditions like atherosclerosis, which can lower your
risk for coronary heart diseases, heart attacks, and strokes.
6. Controls Allergy
Quince has long been praised for its ability to control allergic reactions. When applied as a salve or gel on the skin, it can benefit atopic dermatitis and similar skin conditions. The high levels of vitamin C also help to control inflammation and improve the health and appearance of the skin.
7. Boosts the Immune System
Quince has antioxidants which neutralizes free radicals which may cause many health problems. They also contain vitamin C and E which boosts immunity in various ways. Vitamin C stimulates the immune system to increase the supply of white blood cells, which are the body’s first line of defense against pathogens, viruses, and bacteria.
8. Improves Blood Circulation and Hair Health
Quince contains iron, copper and zinc which are necessary for the production of red blood cells. When red blood cell production is high, the circulation around the body increases as more oxygen is carried throughout the body. This causes increased blood flow to the skin and scalp, which increases hair follicle health and stimulates growth.
9. Treats Ulcers
The phenolics present in Chinese quince have been found to be effective in relieving gastric ulcers. Quince juice is also beneficial for people suffering from gastric ulcers. It also helps in the treatment of peptic ulcers as it soothes the gastrointestinal tract.
10. Eye Care
Flavonoid and fito-nutrient contained in the quince fruit can fight against free radical which can expose the eyes and destroy the retina. Moreover, quince may be very good to be consumed in order to cure night blindness especially for the elder.
11. Anti-inflammatory Properties
Ripe quince fruit is a rich source of Vitamin C, contributing nearly 25% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Vitamin C helps to boost immunity and aids in the treatment of inflammatory conditions. It also possesses anti-allergenic properties. The fruit and its seed extract can be used to treat atopic dermatitis and cystitis. It can also be used in the preparation of food products for allergy sufferers.
12. Treats Nausea And Vomiting
Boiled or baked quince relieves nausea and vomiting. Being a good diuretic, it helps to remove fluid build up.
13. Treats Stomach Ailments
Quince is an effective remedy for morning sickness. Quince, when mixed with honey, can help treat colitis, diarrhea, constipation, and intestinal infections. Quince syrup is used to treat hemorrhoids.
14. Antioxidant Benefits
This fruit boasts of amazing antioxidant properties due to the presence of poly-phenolic compounds. These antioxidants fight off the free radicals present in the body, slowing down the aging process as well as preventing cardiovascular diseases and strokes.
15. Antiviral Properties
Research has shown that quince fruit is rich in anti-viral properties. The phenolics found in Chinese quince possess strong anti-influenza activity as well as antioxidant properties. It helps protect against colds, flues and other viral pathogens.
16. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Regular consumption of quince fruit helps to lower LDL or bad cholesterol in the blood, keeping the heart healthy.
17. Benefits Of Quince Seeds And Oil
Quince seeds are effective in curing hoarseness of the throat and trachea as well as other ailments. Its oil prevents sweating, fortifies the heart and strengthens the liver and stomach.
18. Treats Throat Issues
Quince seeds are an excellent source for curing throat problems such as trachea and throat hoarseness, along with other similar conditions. The oil extracted from quince seeds are effective at preventing sweating, and also help fortify the heart and strengthen the stomach and liver.
19. Curing Gastric Acid
Quince fruits can be really useful to cure gastric acid. The fruit has folate essence which is really effective to cure the gastric acid. Consuming the fruit in form of raw or processed product can health the digesting system and smooth the metabolism process as well. Health Benefits of Echinacea Tea may also cure the gastric acid as well.
20. Friendly Diabetic Survivor
By higher level of fiber containing, quince can prevent the sugar blood level boost and lower the sugar blood as well. The unstable sugar blood will effect fatally to the patients of diabetic. Quince, as one of the richest nutrient fruits on Earth, has lo glycemic index.
Glycemic index is the index show the rata of food and beverage based on blood sugar increasing potential. Therefore, consuming quince is quite healthy and recommend for those now surviving from diabetic or having such genetic line of diabetic disease.
21. Red Blood Cells Booster Producing
Nutrients of zinc and ferrum substance of the quince may help the body to produce more red blood cells which regularly regenerate. By producing higher level of red blood cells, the body will get rid of anemia and ferrum deficient. Furthermore, you will get extra energy and spirit to work and do daily activities more energetic and fresher compare than before.
Ways to Eat Quinces
Bake quinces and eat them as a warm, comforting snack, or serve over ice cream or angel food cake for dessert. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Core, quarter and peel away any tough areas on your quinces. Overlap the slices in a baking dish, then drizzle them with honey and sprinkle with citrus juice and water. Use lemon, lime, apple or orange juice, depending on your preferences. Cover and bake for one hour or until the slices become translucent. Remove the covering and bake an additional 10 minutes to thicken the juices.
Quince has a high pectin content, so is popular in jams and jellies. Pectin is a type of carbohydrate that produces structure and stiffness in jelly via chemical interactions with acidic substances and sugar. Make quince jelly by slicing raw, unpeeled quinces and simmering for 25 minutes. Strain the juices and boil them with sugar and lemon juice. Remove the jelly from heat when it thickens and clings to a spoon. Skim off the foam and use the jelly or can it for later use.
Eat quince if you live in a tropical climate. In hotter countries, the wooly rind of quince disappears and the fruit becomes softer and less acidic. Avoid raw quince from colder climates because of tannin chemicals, which taste unpleasant and disrupt digestion. One plain quince has 50 calories from carbohydrates, 2 g of fiber, 25 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C and small amounts of iron and calcium.
Prepare membrillo, also known as quince paste, by poaching with lemon and 1 vanilla bean per 4 to 5 quinces. Wash and remove quince fuzz before poaching, but keep the skin. After poaching, reserve the liquids and set the quince quarters aside. Puree the quince using a blender or food processor. Mix the quince puree with equal amounts of sugar and 1 tsp. of lemon juice per cup of quince. Return to heat and simmer for two to three more hours, or until the quince thickens into a paste. Eat in moderation due to the high sugar content.
Quarter and peel quinces before poaching, or boiling. Mix together water, a sweetener and citrus juice in a large pot. Use seven cups of water and one cup of sweetener for 6 to 8 quinces, for example. Do not use artificial sweeteners, but try honey, agave syrup or raw sugar. Add vanilla bean, if you prefer, or use other spices. Simmer quinces in the water until you can easily pierce them with a sharp knife, about one to two hours, depending on size.
How to Buy Quince Fruit
In the southern states such as Florida, it’s just about that time of year that the quince starts to come out. Often overlooked among the abundance of colorful common produce, the quince is not a very well-known fruit of the fall season. In fact, many people may not know how to buy quince fruit. When you do happen to stumble upon this secret gem of a fruit however, it’s the perfect time to try something new, explained Pritikin’s Chef Anthony Stewart. The quince is not farmed in great quantities. Thus, it won’t be on your everyday healthy grocery list but instead it’s what he likes to call, a “once a year treat.”
“Most people see it and will pass it or mistake it for something else,” said Chef Anthony. “However, it’s great for people who enjoy experimenting with food.”
The quince often looks similar to a big plum in shape, with a light green color. When it is ripe and ready to eat, it reaches a bright yellow hue with little specks of brown. In addition to its appearance, its fragrant fruity aroma will certainly get your attention.
How to Cook Quince
Most people will tell you that they prefer the soft flesh of a cooked quince – which turns from yellow to soft pink – rather than the fruit in its raw form. Over time however, taste buds will adapt and quince fruit becomes enjoyable both ways.
“Initially, the flavor profile of quince doesn’t register right away as very exciting,” explained Chef Anthony. “The texture does take a bit of getting used to – between a pear and an Asian pear – it’s slightly firm.”
Because quince fruit is full of pectin, it is most often found as a jam, jelly, marmalade or compote, according to the Organic Authority. It can also be roasted in the oven and served with a fall-inspired meal or, similar to apples and pears, is great when baked in pies, tarts and muffins
Simple Cooked Quince Recipe
To prepare and cook quince, follow these instructions:
- Use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Save the skin if you are making any sort of jelly, according to The Kitchen.
- Carefully cut each quince in half with a sharp chef’s knife – this may be a little difficult because of its toughness.
- Cut each fruit into quarters and then cut the core and seeds away.
- Remove any mealy spots.
- After slicing, place each piece of fruit in a bowl of water to prevent browning.
- Pour water into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
- Add quince and simmer for about 40 to 50 minutes, until pink and tender.
- Enjoy as you please!
One caveat: Please don’t cut yourself when slicing or peeling quince. They’re tough little suckers. Tougher than you are. They’ll turn a lovely shade of red on their own without you cutting yourself while slicing them.
- 3 quince (about 2 pounds)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and the seeds scraped into the syrup
- In a large non-reactive saucepan, bring the sugar, water, and the vanilla bean pod and seeds, to a boil.
- Peel and quarter the quince using a chef’s knife. With a paring knife, cut out the tough core and any bits of hard matter surrounding it. Take care, as the flesh is very hard (some people suggest poaching the quince with the cores, then remove them later, but I remove them). Cut the quince quarters in half or thirds, making 1-inch slices.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and add the quince slices to the syrup (they’ll begin to brown quickly once cut, so submerge them into the syrup as they’re sliced). Cover with a round of parchment paper, and simmer gently for about 1 ½ hours, or until they’re rosy and tender (poke them with a paring knife if you need to check.)
Once poached, the quince in their liquid will keep in the refrigerator for at least 5 days. You can also use these as a base for my Quince tarte Tatin. This recipe was updated, and you can find a variation of it here: Rosy Poached Quince.
Quince Jelly Recipe
- 3 1/2 lbs (1.6 kg) of quince, washed, stems removed, cored, quartered (leave skin on)
- 7 cups (1.6 liters) water
- Enough sugar to add almost a cup of sugar (about 7/8 cup) for every cup of juice (about 4 cups)
- 1 wide 6 or 8-quart pan (Stainless steel or copper with stainless steel lining)
- Metal strainer
- Potato masher
- Canning jars (6 8-ounce jars or 3 pint jars)
- Candy thermometer or digital thermometer
First stage Of Cooking
- Cover peeled quince with water: Put quince pieces in a large stockpot with a thick bottom and add water (if you are eyeballing it, put in enough water to cover the pieces of quince by about an inch.)
- Cook quince until soft: Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until the quince pieces are soft.
- Mash cooked quince: With a potato masher, mash the quince to the consistency of slightly runny applesauce. Add more water if necessary. If the mash is too thick, you won’t get enough juice out of it.
- Strain the quince juice from the pulp: Place a metal strainer over a pot. Drape 2 layers of cheesecloth over the strainer. (Can skip the cheesecloth if you are using a fine mesh strainer). Ladle the pulp into the cheesecloth. You may need to have two strainers set up this way.
- Let the pulp strain for 3 to 4 hours. If you aren’t getting enough juice out of the pulp, you may need to mix more water into the mash.
Measure The Juice And Sugar
- Add sugar: Measure the amount of juice you have. Should be about 4 to 5 cups. Pour the strained quince juice into a thick-bottomed pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Measure out the sugar – a little less than a cup for every cup of juice. Add sugar to the juice.
Second Stage Of Cooking
- Bring to a boil: Bring to a boil, initially stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved, so that the sugar does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Insert a candy thermometer to monitor the jelly temperature.
- Skim foam: As the jelly cooks, skim off the foam that comes to the surface with a spoon.
- Sterilize jars: As the jelly is boiling, sterilize your jars for canning. (See section below on canning.)
- Look for the set point: As the temperature rises above the boiling point of water (212°F), you will notice the consistency of the jelly/juice begins to change. When the temperature is approximately 6 to 8 degrees higher than boiling point at your altitude (anywhere from 218°F to 220°F at sea level) the jelly is ready to pour into jars. (Quince has so much pectin, it can set earlier than other types of jellies.)
Vanilla Poached Quince Recipe
- 2 kg (4.4 pounds) ripe quinces, about 8 (a ripe quince is chiefly yellow, with faint green highlights)
- 160 grams (3/4 cup, packed) unrefined cane sugar
- 1 pod vanilla
- Place the quinces in the sink, cover with warm water, and rub them in the water to remove the fuzzy down on their skin.
- Rinse, drain, and dry.
- Peel the quinces with a vegetable peeler. Using a very sharp knife, cut each quince in quarters, carve out the core, and cut into wedges. This is a bit of a workout; be extremely cautious with that knife and try not to gash your hand open.
Regular pot method:
- Fill a heavy cast-iron pot with 2 liters (8 cups) water and the sugar. Bring to a simmer and add the quince. Split the vanilla pod open lengthwise, scrape out the seeds with the dull side of a knife blade, and add the seeds and pod to the pot. Stir to combine.
- Cover and keep at a low simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring regularly but gently, until the fruit is soft and ruby-pink. Remove the lid for the last half-hour so the syrup will reduce a bit.
Pressure cooker method:
- Place the quinces, the sugar and the vanilla in the pressure cooker, and add in water just to cover the fruit. Cook for 30 minutes starting from the whistle of the safety valve.
- Let cool, cover, and refrigerate until the next day, to let the flavors settle and develop. Poached quinces freeze splendidly, too.
How To Grow Quince
Fashions come and go, no less in fruit-growing than in the width of trouser-leg (though rather more slowly), but if you want to be á la mode in your garden right now I recommend you plant a quince tree. It’s even The California Rare Fruit Growers Association’s 2014 fruit tree of the year.
Its renaissance is long overdue. The tree itself is full of character, tending to grow into an irregular shape with twisted branches. Its flowers, which appear in June, are single, large and pinky-white. The large fruits ripen to golden-yellow and shine out from among the strikingly large leaves, which are grey and furry underneath, making you want to stroke them. The fruit itself is delicious.
What I love, though, is its part in history and myth. It’s often mooted that the apples awarded to Aphrodite by Paris were actually quinces, as might have been the fruit with which the serpent tempted Eve. It seems the seeds were once used as a gelling agent (before commercially produced gelatine made things easier) and it has always been a useful source of pectin for jams. Quince trees live to a ripe old age, and venerable examples include the four wizened veterans in the Cloisters Museum in New York.
Tasty, Scented Fruits
On top of all this, though, is a beautiful taste and scent. The fruit has to be cooked as it’s too hard to eat fresh (an exception, in a good summer, may be the early-ripening variety Ivan), but although many recipes call for long hours of baking, if you stew it in a pan it will actually cook in about fifteen minutes. Its slightly spicy, intensely rich flavour combines excellently with apples or dried fruit.
The fruits smells rather like pineapple—not the fresh fruit (the introduction of which probably helped in the quince’s decline), but pineapple sweets. A bowl of quinces will scent a room, and some people even recommend putting one in the car as an air-freshener.
Growing Quince Trees
Another good point is that a quince will tolerate most soils, acid or alkaline. It’s happiest on a deep, rich loam that stays moist and if I had a pond or stream I’d put one next to it, so long as it didn’t become waterlogged. Light soils should have plenty of compost added before planting and a thick organic mulch applied every year. In a very dry summer, you should give it a very thorough soaking.
Planted in open ground, it’s not a first choice for the smallest garden as, depending on rootstock and soil conditions, it can grow anywhere from around 10 feet (3 meters) to 20 feet (6 meters) tall. However, it could also be trained against a wall and recently a Patio Quince has been developed, so even if space is limited it’s not out of the question. A bonus is that, being self-fertile, only one tree is needed.
Advice is generally to cosset your quince in a warm and sunny spot or, in colder northerly areas, to grow it against a south-facing or west-facing wall (in the States it is hardy in Zones 5-9). However, as always, growing isn’t an exact science, and we’ve found that in the UK’s warmer south our east-facing Vranja variety is quite happy in a bit of shade.
Once established, quince trees need very little pruning. In winter, remove dead, diseased or damaged stems. If yours has a particularly untidy mode of growth you could also even up the tree’s shape a bit and take out any branches that are creating congestion.
Best Quince Varieties
Quinces are either apple- or pear-shaped. The slightly misshapen pear shapes look dramatic, but apple-shaped Leskovic is the hardiest and probably the best choice for colder positions. Vranja (the only quince with an Award of Garden Merit) and Meech’s Prolific are very reliable, and Bereczki is said to crop heavily and have one of the best flavors. There is a surprising variety of cultivars (one of the world’s largest quince collections is held in Oregon, USA) and advice from a local nursery should put you on to a good choice for your area.
Harvesting, Storing and Using Quinces
The fruit ripens gradually to a rich yellow and though it’s tempting (think of Eve’s apple), it should be left on the tree as long as possible to allow the flavor and perfume to develop. Ideally this means until the end of October. The only exception is if frosts threaten, when you should gather them before the cold gets them.
Storing demands a little thought as their perfume will affect any fruit stored nearby. Put them somewhere separate, where they don’t touch each other, and check regularly for rot. The fruit will keep for around 3 months.
Quince can used in savory dishes to accompany meat, but also, like the medlar, to make a cheese or jelly, and is the secret to a really special apple pie. You’ll never want to eat one without quince again.
NB: Don’t confuse this quince (Cydonia oblonga) with Cydonia japonica, the Japanese Quince (also known by the Latin name Chaenomeles). That also bears edible fruit but is generally grown as a beautiful shrub.
Negative Effects Of Quince
There is no definitive evidence of side effects or risks of quince, and all of the information seems to point towards it being a great addition to any diet. However, quince seeds do contain trace amounts of cyanide, so eating more than a few seeds could be troublesome. Additional scientific studies exploring the pros and cons of this delicious fruit are currently ongoing.
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