Quince is a little known fruit, primarily because it is not often seen in supermarkets or even farmer’s markets. The plant flowers nicely but what to do with quince fruit once they arrive? Centuries ago, the fruit was a common accompaniment to game and used in pastries, pies and jams, but it has fallen out of favor for easier to love pomes, such as apples and pears.
Quince is fairly inedible raw but, once cooked, a treasure trove of flavors are released. This ancient, but worthy, fruit deserves to come back out of the shadows. Learn some tips for cooking with quince and enjoy the heady sweet taste and aroma of properly prepared quince.
What to Do With Quince?
Foods can fall in and out of fad like everything else, but quince is simply a forgotten food. It was once so common it was a part of everyday meals and was probably used as much as its cousins the apples and pears. But the tough, hard-to-cut fruit and need to cook it in order to make it palatable saw a fall in the popularity of quince.
Historically, there were many uses for quince fruit and many different ways in which to prepare the pome. Today, it is considered a fringe food and relegated to adventurous eaters and those of us lucky enough to have a burgeoning quince bush in our yards.
Animals don’t seem to mind the astringent taste of quince, so you can always feed the fruit to your barnyard friends. In the absence of that option, perhaps it is best to use them as people food, which sends us looking into the past for recipes. Quince may be roasted, stewed, pureed, jellied, poached, baked, grilled and more.
The tough part is preparing the fruit, which is very hard and can be woody on the outside and at the core but spongy and unmanageable in the remainder of the fruit. Remove the peel and the core before using the fruit. Then cut up the flesh and cook it in whatever manner works best with your recipe.
Cooking with Quince Fruit
The simplest thing to do with the fruit is to stew it. You can stew or poach it in water or wine with plenty of sugar, as the fruit is quite bitter. Add some spices and the result will be a pink blushed flesh that is tender sweet and redolent of vanilla and your seasonings.
Another of the easy quince fruit uses is in baking. Substitute the fruit where you would use an apple or pear. Keep in mind the quince will need more time or should be steamed ahead of the baking process, as the fruit is harder and flesh more stubborn than either of the other two fruits.
Finally, the classic jellied quince should be on the menu. Quince is filled with pectin, a natural thickener which makes it an all-star in preserves.
Other Quince Fruit Uses
There are many other uses for quince fruit. It is often used as a rootstock for pears, due to its hardiness. The plant, especially when trained, has great ornamental appeal and brilliant early season blooms. It is especially lovely when espaliered.
The nutritional benefits of quince are enormous, with the fruit highest in Vitamin C, zinc, iron, copper, iron, potassium and fiber. Its history as an herbal supplement and medicine shows it has been useful as a gastrointestinal aid, skin and hair enhancer, lowering blood pressure and may help heart disease. Modern analysis feels the fruit has some ability to limit some cancers.
With all this to offer, as well as a great many varieties in which to eat the fruit, why wouldn’t you want to engage with this ancient pome?