Quinces: an unusual, healthy treat!
You don’t see them often in our regions. A little more in the south. Huge knots that look like failed pears. Irregular in shape and with a velvet skin. Hard as hell. Really not edible raw, but cooked and prepared, on the other hand, a real delicacy! Sweet and deliciously smelling. Quinces, a grandmother’s delicacy, originally from the area around the Caspian Sea. Make a tasty purée from the ripe quinces, serve it stewed with meat or make translucent, golden jelly. A fruit with a low calorie content and a lot of vitamins.
The quince: a strange fruit
Not tasty raw, delicious prepared!
You don’t see them that often in Belgium and the Netherlands. They are more common in the south of Europe, but many people no longer know what to do with quinces. The fruit is ripe when it is golden yellow and when there is a kind of fluff on the skin that comes off easily when you rub it with your fingers. The fruit is really not tasty raw. The taste is very bitter and tart. When you peel a quince, the pulp immediately turns brown. It looks dirty and unsavory, but once you stew or boil the quince in water, it releases a wonderful honey-sweet aroma and the fruit also tastes delicious. Since the quince is very hard, it can be quite difficult to cut the quince into pieces!
Harvesting and storage
The quince is best harvested in October, November and December. Once removed from the tree, the quince can remain in a dark and dry storage place for a few weeks.
The quince is originally from the area around the Caspian Sea. Its botanical name is “Cydonia oblonga”. It takes its name on the one hand from the Greek city of Kydonia on the island of Crete, now better known as Chania. It was cultivated there as early as 4000 years before Christ. The Greeks loved it. They ate the quince filled with honey. The Romans used the wonderfully sweet aroma to make perfume. It was the Greeks and the Romans who introduced quince to Western Europe. It owes the second part of its name “oblonga” to its shape. The quince is indeed a bit elongated. Nowadays, quince is mainly cultivated in the south of Europe and by a few in the more northern regions. Here you can often also find them in foreign shops, with Turks or Iranians. Main varieties are the Champion, the Giant of Vranja and the Portuguese Quince. The quince is a plant of the rose family!
The quince tree
The quince tree can reach a height of between 4 and 6 meters and is quite wide. It likes the sun and slightly moist soil. Large, white flowers appear on the branches in April-May and the quinces are ripe for picking at the end of September. Pruning is allowed, but not really necessary.
The quince, nothing but good qualities!
For health, nothing but good about the quince! In terms of calories, it is a real winner: only 57 kcal per 100 g. The problem is that the quince is often prepared with a lot of butter and / or sugar, which of course boosts the calories!
High in fiber
The quince contains 2 g of fiber per 100 g. This makes the quince an excellent fruit for people with intestinal complaints. It stops diarrhea, protects the intestinal wall, and has an antiseptic effect. The writer Cervantes was also aware of the beneficial effects of the quince. In his novel “Don Quijote de La Mancha”, Don Quijote recommends his helper Sancho Panza to consume quinces to relieve his intestinal problems.
With 15 mg of vitamin C per 100 g, the quince is also a winner. This puts it on the same level as the cherry and it accounts for 25% of the Recommended daily amount of vitamin C. The problem here is again that the quince has to be cooked, and that a whole part of the vitamins are lost as a result. The quince also scores very well in terms of iron. Good for 6% of the Recommended Daily Allowance. Other good properties of the quince: it would reduce the risk of stomach and colon cancer and lower the cholesterol and sugar levels in the blood. So nothing but good about this forgotten fruit!
The quince in the kitchen
The quince is always eaten prepared by humans. Animals consume the fruit raw. In Europe, especially Southern Europe, quince is mainly used to make jam and marmalade. The word marmalade comes from the Portuguese word for quince, “marmelo”. The fruit can also be processed into a puree, often in combination with apples and pears. It is also a real sweet treat as a fruit paste, very much appreciated by children. It can also be used to make liqueur, such as ratafia. In the South it is also often made into espuma, with yogurt and cream. In addition to sweet dishes, quince can also be used stewed as a side dish with meat, poultry or game. In the East, the quince is even prepared as a salty dish, stuffed like a tomato or a bell pepper or in a tagine. In Mexico large blocks of hard jelly are made from the “membrillo”, which is then cut into slices and eaten or with bread. Japan also knows the quince and uses the fruit in all kinds of dishes.