The quince is the fruit of quince, a tree of 4 to 8 meters high. It is pear shaped, very hard and corduroy. Its skin and flesh are yellow. It is impossible to eat raw as it is hard and bitter. Originally from Caucasus and Iran, quince was cultivated more than 4,000 years ago in ancient Persia. Its other name is “pear of Cydonie.
History of the quince
The Greeks believed that the Quince was a symbol of love and fertility. The Romans Meanwhile used its as an essential oil to make perfumes. Quince was mainly used to make jams and jellies. The word “marmalade” comes even from the Greek term “marmelada” meaning quince jam. This fruit has high content in pectin, a fibrous thickening substance.
Its thin green skin turns yellow when the fruit is ripe. The flesh is very fragrant, dry and firm. The quince should not be eaten raw.
The quince contains tannins which disappear during cooking but can give it a bitter taste. As the pear flesh quickly oxidizes (becomes brown) when it is cut. A little trick: drizzle of lemon juice or cook the quince immediately in order to avoid oxidation.
Quince health effects
Although the quince is a source of vitamin C and antioxidant. As it’s eaten cooked, the majority of vitamin C is destroyed by heat. Quince also contains phenolic compounds and antioxydantes properties. In addition, some studies have shown a potential positive effect for the prevention of colon and kidney cancer.
The quince is a fruit rich in pectin, a type of fiber having the property to form a gel by trapping the water. Pectin would have many benefits on health including the reduction of blood cholesterol level as well as glycemic level. Pectin would also have the ability to delay gastric emptying and thus promote satiety. It has also been studied in connection with certain types of cancer including colon cancer. Eventually it would also have the ability to form a physical barrier protecting the intestinal cells against microbial infections.
Use of the quince
When buying a quince, look for a fleshy and firm fruit with a partially yellow skin. If it is not completely ripe, let it ripen at room temperature. Then, you can refrigerate and keep it a few weeks in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it in the form of puree. If it is raw, peel it, and slice it drizzling lemon juice before putting in the freezer. It can be cooked in the oven as an apple, once its trimmed and peeled. It actually can be used in jam, apple sauce, jelly, syrup, or wine. Its combines well with apples, pears, strawberries and raspberries. In Europe, people appreciate quince dough. In Eastern Europe, in the Middle East and North Africa the quince is most used in simmered dishes as well as in tagines.
Harvest and conservation of quince
At the end of autumn, when the first frosts are felt, is the ideal time to harvest quinces. The fruits are so well coloured and covered with a light fuzz which is a sign of their arrival at maturity.
When to harvest quinces?
Harvest quinces as late as possible in autumn, just before the arrival of the first frost, when they have a nice golden color. They will taste better and can be better cooked.
It is also possible to harvest them before their maturation for conservation on shelves.
How to properly store the quinces?
The quinces are a fruit quite difficult to keep and must be cooked quickly. Nevertheless you can keep them almost a month on shelves which are well-ventilated avoiding moisture.
Do not store them with other fruit as they accelerate their ripening.
Quinces are not eaten raw. They enter the preparation of jellies, fruit pulp and apple sauce.
Quince cacn be kept 2 months in a local fresh and protected area from light and moisture or in the refrigerator, as for jams and other frozen preparations they will last several years.
Freeze the quinces: peel them, remove the seeds and cut into quarters, then blanch them before freezing in bags. They will thus last 1 year and can be used when required.