What to do with Quince


Quince Vranja

Quince are some of the most attractive fruit. Pear-shaped, rounded or knobbly, they have a soft downy skin with a citrussy yellow or lime colour. The fruit is very tasty and aromatic but is not really suitable for eating fresh. The botanical name is Cydonia oblonga and they are native to Asia and the Mediterranean. An ancient fruit once revered by the Greeks and Romans, they are rarely available to buy in shops so it is well worth planting a tree in your garden so that you can enjoy them. The trees also have beautiful soft pink flowers in spring. Cydonia quince should not be confused with Japanese Quince which is the thorny, flowering shrub Chaenomeles (the small, hard fruit of Chaenomeles are edible but not very nice!).

When do quince ripen?

The fruit of the quince tree ripens in October and should be harvested when the skin has developed a rich golden colour. Summers in the UK are rarely hot and sunny enough to ripen the fruit properly before October so it’s best to leave them on the tree for as long as possible before picking. In mild autumns it may be possible to gather them as late as November.

Can quince be stored?

Yes, you can store quince in the fridge for up to a month and in the freezer for a year or more. You can also keep them for six weeks in a cool, dark place such as a cellar, garage or pantry. Only store undamaged fruit as any bruising can lead to rot. If possible, it is best to eat them straight after harvesting.

Can you eat quince raw?

You can eat quince raw but they can be quite tough if they are not cooked and the flavour can be quite tart. You would need very strong teeth to bite into a fresh quince! Cooking quinces makes them softer and sweeter. The taste is a delicate combination of fresh pears and crisp apples. The texture is more granular than other fruit. Some varieties, such as Aromatnaya, are naturally slightly softer so in a good, warm year they can be eaten fresh from the tree.

Are quince good for you?

Yes! Quince are very nutritious and provide plenty of fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Iron, Potassium, Magnesium and Copper. They offer an invaluable array of useful nutrients whilst also being low in calories. Quinces are also an excellent source of antioxidants. It certainly good for you to add quinces to your diet.

What are the best varieties of quince to grow?

We grow several different varieties of quince at Frank P Matthews. All of them are suitable for growing in the warmer areas of the UK. Whilst the trees may grow in very northern areas or higher altitudes they are unlikely to thrive and the fruit won’t ripen properly. We would recommend any of the following as excellent for most gardens:

How big do quince trees get?

Quince trees make beautiful garden trees and they don’t get huge. They are very architectural with a graceful, spreading shape. We use Quince A and Quince Eline rootstocks which are semi-vigorous and semi-dwarfing, respectively. The ultimate height will vary depending on the soil and location of planting but on a QA rootstock they could reach up to 5 metres tall and on QEline up 4 metres tall. The branches of quince trees can be brittle when young so they are not that well suited to training into forms such as espaliers.

How to cook quinces

There are lots of delicious ways to eat quinces. Here are three of the most popular and simple quince recipes:

Quince and Apple Crumble Recipe

Simply peel and slice the quinces just as you would the apples. Mix the quinces and apple in roughly 50/50 quantities in the crumble dish. Add a splash of cold water and sprinkle lightly with brown sugar and bake for ten minutes to soften slightly before adding the crumble mix and cooking to completion. We would recommend any quince variety and Bramley’s Seedling apples for the best flavour. Eat with cream or custard.

Quince Vodka Recipe

Ingredients: 500g chopped quince, 250g sugar,1/2 litre vodka.

Put the chopped quinces into a large container. Add vodka and sugar. Mix well and store in a cool place. Mix twice a week for 4 weeks then occasionally for the next 5 months. Strain and pour the liquid back into the container. Let settle so the sediment sinks to the bottom. Syphon into sterilised bottles and enjoy!

Quince Jelly Recipe

Ingredients: 1kg chopped quince, 600g preserving sugar, 1 lemon (juice and zest), 3 litres of cold water.

Put the quinces and lemon juice and zest into a large saucepan, cover with the water and bring to the boil. Simmer for an hour to make the quince very soft. Strain the contents of the saucepan into another large saucepan through a muslin cloth, this can take several hours so is best done overnight. Add the sugar to the strained juice and bring to the boil. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved and it reaches setting temperature (about 105C). Ladle into sterilised jars. Quince jelly will store for over a year and makes a delicious accompaniment to roasted meats or simply spread on toast like jam.