Quince, an ancient fruit with a unique taste and many health benefits. Discover its advantages!

Quince is a close relative of apples and pears, but it is not as well known.

What is important to know about her?

How is it grown?

Where in the kitchen can we use it?

In this article, you will learn about the health benefits of eating it, how to store it properly, and many other tips.

What exactly is a quince?

This is the fruit of the quince bush or tree. The fruits are globose to oblong shaped malvias with a yellow pungent smell. They are very similar in shape to apples or pears. The skin of the quince can have distinct ribbing with a felty skin that remains shiny and sometimes oily when rubbed. The flesh of the quince, with a light yellow color, is juicy, strongly aromatic, and smells of citrus. In the raw state, the fruits are difficult to digest, therefore they are not consumed without heat treatment.

Fresh quince on a plate.

Why is it appropriate to include quince in our diet?

Consuming quince has several health benefits such as:

They are rich in nutrients

Quinces contain fiber and several essential vitamins and minerals, making them a nutritious addition to your diet. This fruit supplies your body with moderate amounts of vitamin C and copper, plus small amounts of B vitamins, iron, potassium, and magnesium. Although not exceptionally rich in any particular compound, quinces offer a wide range of nutrients and very few calories.

They contain strong antioxidants

Quinces contain plenty of antioxidants that help reduce metabolic stress and inflammation while protecting cells from free radical damage.

They help to manage the nausea of pregnancy

A recent study found quince syrup to be significantly more effective than vitamin B6 in reducing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

They relieve digestive problems

Quince has long been used in traditional and folk medicine to treat various digestive disorders. Quince extract helps protect intestinal tissue from damage associated with inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis.

They help treat stomach ulcers

Plant compounds in quinces can help prevent and treat stomach ulcers, and quince extract protects against alcohol-induced stomach ulcers.

They reduce the symptoms of reflux

Several studies suggest that quince syrup is as effective as traditional medications used to treat symptoms of GERD.

They help protect against certain allergic reactions

Quince can relieve various allergy symptoms such as skin problems, runny nose and asthma by suppressing the activity of certain immune cells responsible for these allergic reactions.

They support the proper functioning of the immune system

Quinces contain vitamin C and fiber, two nutrients that support a healthy immune system. They may also have antibacterial properties.

Nutritional values

In the following table, see a comparison of the nutritional values of 100 g of fresh quinces, apples and pears.

Nutritional values Quantity in 100 g of fresh quinces Quantity in 100 g of fresh apples Quantity in 100 g of fresh pears
Energy 57 kcal 52 kcal 57 kcal
Fats 0.1 g 0.2 g 0.1 g
Carbohydrates 15 g 14 g 15 g
Fiber 1.9 g 2.4 g 3.1 g
Proteins 0.4 g 0.3 g 0.4 g

Vitamins and minerals

Also, look at the amount of minerals and vitamins that fresh quinces contain compared to fresh apples and pears.

Vitamins and minerals Quantity in 100 g of fresh quinces Quantity in 100 g of fresh apples Quantity in 100 g of fresh pears
Vitamin A 2.00 mcg 3.00 mcg 1.00 mcg
Vitamin B1 0.020 mg 0.017 mg 0.012 mg
Vitamin B2 0.030 mg 0.026 mg 0.026 mg
Vitamin B3 0.200 mg 0.091 mg 0.161 mg
Vitamin B6 0.040 mg 0.041 mg 0.029 mg
Folates 3.00 mcg 3.00 mcg 7.00 mcg
Vitamin C 15.0 mg 4.6 mg 4.3 mg
Vitamin E 0.12 mg 0.18 mg 0.12 mg
Vitamin K 4.5 mcg 2.2 mcg 4.4 mcg
Calcium 11.00 mg 6.00 mg 9.00 mg
Copper 0.13 mg 0.03 mg 0.08 mg
Iron 0.70 mg 0.12 mg 0.18 mg
Magnesium 8.00 mg 5.00 mg 7.00 mg
Phosphorus 17.00 mg 11.00 mg 12.00 mg
Potassium 197.00 mg 107.00 mg 116.00 mg
Selenium 0.60 mcg 0.00 mcg 0.10 mcg
Sodium 4.00 mg 1.00 mg 1.00 mg
Zinc 0.04 mg 0.04 mg 0.10 mg

As we can see in the table, quince contains almost twice as much vitamin C and generally more minerals than apples and pears.

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How to choose the right quinces?

You can find quince at farmers’ markets, for example. Choose fruits that are firm and without major bruises, wrinkles or other signs of damage. Small marks on the skin usually do not affect the fruit. You may notice fluff on the fruit. This fluff falls off as it matures. A fully ripe quince will be yellow or golden in color and will have a pleasant sweet aroma. Large fruits are also usually riper and sweeter than smaller fruits.

How are quinces stored?

There are many ways to store quinces, from whole fresh to processed frozen.

Storing fresh quinces

Store quinces in a single layer so they don’t squish. They should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place such as a cellar. High humidity does not matter, on the contrary, it will prevent the fruits from drying out. However, it is important to protect them from sunlight. In good conditions, it can last up to 3 months. The more stable the temperature, the better. It should stay below 15 degrees Celsius, but the cooler it is, the longer the fruit will last. At room temperature, quince will keep for about a week.

Storing quince in the refrigerator

If you do not have a suitable cool and dark place to store quinces, you can keep them in the refrigerator. The ideal temperature range is between 3°C and 5°C. Here the fruits stay fresh for a long time without losing their juiciness. You can wrap individual fruits in kitchen towels. They are breathable and do not hold moisture on the skin. The cooler you keep in the fridge, the longer the fruit will last. On average, at 4 °C, it lasts approximately 70 days.

Frozen quince

Wash the quince well to remove any dirt and pat dry to get rid of any fluff. This is because the fluff is bitter and we don’t want it to contaminate the prepared fruit. Now you have several options. You can freeze quince whole or with the skin on, but it is still best to boil them briefly before freezing. Or you can peel the fruit, remove the core and cut it into equally sized pieces.

You can either poach quince, stew it or freeze it raw. You do this by lining a baking sheet with baking paper, spreading the quince evenly in one layer and letting it freeze overnight. The next morning, check to make sure the quince is completely frozen, then store in individual-sized bags or freezer-safe containers that are tightly sealed. Alternatively, you can prepare a sugar syrup and poach the quince gently. Once cool, add them to the syrup and store in airtight jars in the freezer until needed. This will help preserve their texture. Quince should last around 6 to 12 months in the freezer.

Thawing frozen quinces

Remove the container or bag from the freezer, place it on a plate on the kitchen counter and leave it there until it thaws. You can use the microwave to defrost faster, but the quince will have a slightly softer consistency.

How can we use quince in the kitchen?

Unlike other fruits, quinces are rarely eaten raw. Even when ripe, raw quinces have a very firm flesh and a sour, astringent taste. So most quince lovers agree that the fruit is best consumed heat-treated.

It is necessary to remove the skin before cooking. Use a vegetable peeler to remove. If you plan to make quince jams or preserves, be sure to save the peel, as it contains a large amount of pectin.

Next, cut off a small piece at the bottom of the quince so it will sit and not wobble. Core it like an apple with a sharp knife.

After cutting the quince, put it in a pot with water and a small amount of sugar and let it simmer until the pulp is soft. You can also experiment with adding spices such as vanilla, cinnamon, ginger and star anise. You can eat boiled quince alone or use it in oatmeal, add it to yogurt or serve it with roast pork. It is also an excellent addition to fruit pies and tarts.

As you cook the quince, notice that the white/yellowish flesh turns deep pink or purple and the pleasant aroma increases tenfold!

Quinces are mainly used to make preserves and jams because they are naturally rich in pectin. Pectin is actually a natural hardener, and thanks to its properties, fruit lasts longer.

Recipes with quinces

Quince jam

This is the most classic quince dessert: its preparation is long and complicated if you want to follow the traditional recipe. The preparation method is the same as for making classic fruit jam, but quince jam also involves a drying process that can take two to three weeks.

Quince jam in a glass with a spoon, with plates of bread with jam and a plate of butter placed next to it.

Baked quince

Prepare an original quince dessert! It is very easy to prepare: cut the fruit in half and put it on a baking sheet with sugar, red wine and cloves. When the quinces are baked, serve them with vanilla ice cream.

Quince baked in the oven on a baking sheet.

Quince cake

Instead of baking a classic apple pie, you can use quince. Just prepare a smooth and traditional dough and add small pieces to it, which you cook in advance with lemon juice and sugar.

Quince bun served on a plate with a knife.

Quince liqueur

An excellent spirit can also be made from quince. The first step is to grate the pulp of the fruit, which has to act for several days. Then squeeze the juice and add alcohol (1 liter) and sugar (500 g). Depending on your taste, you can flavor the liqueur with a few cloves or a pinch of cinnamon. This is when the maceration process begins. After 3 months, strain the mixture and the sweet liquor will be ready to drink.

Quince liqueur in a glass with fresh quince placed next to it.

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Cultivation of quince

Quince, Cydonia oblonga, is an ornamental flowering tree or shrub that produces fragrant fruit while looking good all year round. It should definitely not be confused with the ornamental flowering shrub, which is also called quince. This is a completely different plant known as Japanese quince from the genus Chaenomeles, whose fruits are extremely acidic.

In early spring, quince blooms with pale pink or white flowers on a visually interesting multi-stemmed tree that curls with age. The flowers attract numerous pollinators and host the amazing Limenitis arthemis butterfly, commonly called the White Admiral, and all its subspecies.

Growing quinces is not that difficult, but it is important to provide them with suitable conditions. You need a sunny location with fertile soil. Quince adapts to both moist and dry soil, but grows best when the soil is well-drained. It’s also important to note that while quince is self-fertile, production will increase with pollination, so at least two trees are needed to get a usable harvest.

Quince bears fruit 3 to 4 years after planting. The fruits are then harvested most often at the beginning of October, in an exceptionally warm season it can also be at the end of September. You can tell when quinces are ready for harvest when the skin loses its greenish-yellow color and turns golden yellow or orange. The aroma of quince becomes more pronounced as it ages.

Growing quince is not difficult, but it is best suited to warm areas. That is why it can be found mainly in Moravia and southern Slovakia. It is also popular in the southern states, where these up to six meter tall trees or shrubs do very well.

Quince with fruits.

Quince history and interesting facts

Quinces come from the quince tree, one of the oldest known fruit trees. The Babylonians and Greeks seem to have cultivated this tree, which spread throughout Asia Minor and the Caucasus to Mediterranean countries, including Italy.

Although these fruits were not used much in cooking, quinces had a very good reputation among ancient cultures for their properties. Many different legends are associated with these special fruits.

Already in Greek times, quinces were valued for their fragrance, and we can recognize quinces in mythological depictions among the fruits exchanged by the gods. According to some testimonies of ancient authors, the fruits offered to the gods in Sparta were fragrant, but not so good to eat: it reminds us of raw quinces.

Among the testimonies coming from antiquity, some of them tell about the use of quince as a medicinal remedy. From the Middle Ages until the Renaissance, doctors suggested drinking quince juice as a treatment for intestinal ailments.

Nowadays, however, quince is definitely not one of the most produced fruits. In the entire Italian territory, only one hundred hectares are devoted to quince cultivation. Lombardy and Venice have some areas densely covered with quinces. Especially in the region near Treviso there is a wide area with very old quinces.

Evidence of this ancient origin of quince in Italian territory can also be found in the names of some towns, as their names clearly come from Cotogno, which means quince in Italian, namely Codognè near Treviso and Codogno near Lodi.

In Portugal, quince is called “marmelo” and this is where the word marmalade was born.

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