Quince It Came: Delicious, Beautiful Fruit

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Quince: Welcome this uncommon and fruitful tree into your garden. fruiting edible quince blossom

I first encountered the edible quince Cydonia oblonga at a friend’s farm, where the tree stood like a garden prop, perfectly shaped, petite and laden with fuzzy gold orbs the size of small papayas. With fruits doing double time as well-placed ornaments, the tree was showy and productive. In other words, it had me at “hello.”

edible quince flowering bud

Years later, my quince is in bloom and I’m no less smitten. The blossoms sit high on each twig cluster like individual nosegays. After the buds unfurl in shades of pink and white, the airy (and large) blossoms point skyward.  Yep, it’s mighty pretty and the good news continues; the tree is pest free, self-fertile and fruitful.  And while the fruit is rock hard when harvested, it becomes fragrant, tender and delicious when cooked, but I’ll continue that part of the story this September.

ripe quince
Ripe quince, ready for picking!

Here’s what Trees for Antiquity Nursery has to say about the quince (in case you need another opinion).

Cydonia

A relative of the apple, the quince is one of the earliest known fruits. For over 4,000 years, quince trees have grown in Asia and the Mediterranean. Today, they are also found in Latin America, the Middle East and here in the United States where there is a resurgence of interest in this ancient fruit. Quinces typically aren’t eaten fresh (with the exception of the Aromatnaya Quince), but make wonderful marmalades, are a lively addition to apple sauces and pies, and compliment meat dishes. Because they contain a large amount of natural pectin, they are also ideal for jellies, chutneys and preserves. Quinces are all low chill (300 hours), self-fruitful and tolerate wet soils better than most fruit trees.

Update: Here’s what the fruit looked like when harvested in October at Tall Clover Farm.

Related links:

What I was blogging about a year ago: Renee, I Have Your Rhubarb.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I just planted a quince tree this year and am curious what I’ll get. I’ve only ever had quince in the form of jam-smothered stinky cheese. I’m excited for it!

  2. Annette I think you’ll be happy you did; the tree stays naturally small (for a fruit tree) and after you pick the fruit let it sit in kitchen for a while (days to weeks) as it releases a lovely fragrance upon ripening. The fruit really doesn’t soften, but this perfume is a signal it’s okay to cook it for compotes, jams, jellies, tarts, etc. It magically turns a rich orange-red upon cooking. I look forward to hearing about your harvest and kitchen wizardry.

  3. I agree with you Tom, Quince is a great little fruit tree for the home garden. I read that the fruit can ripen on the tree in the right climate… whatever that is. I had a quince tree in my former garden and I would do just like you say. But don’t pick too early or the fruit will just rot from the inside.

    I love quince jam – faster to make than membrillo and a lovely rosy color. Also great in Tatin-like tart.

    Here! to a great quince harvest.

  4. A quince tree “volunteered” near the base of our pear tree. We think it was precipitated from the rootstock of the pear tree after moving it about 4 – 5 years ago. This year, for the first time, it blossomed (looked exactly like your photo) and now it has 3 fuzzy light green fruits that we are waiting to ripen. Thanks for confirming the identity of our “gift” tree.

  5. Aileen that makes perfect sense as quince are often used as root stock. The fruit will likely turn yellow in early fall. I pick them and await for them to become fragrant and then make quice jam which is a brilliant red spread.

  6. How have I missed your blog? I love it.
    I started making the quince paste about five years ago, as part of a holiday cookie/candy assortment. Every year, more requests come in for “more of that red candy.” I read somewhere, that, in colonial times “monied ladies” would put a quince in their linens drawer for the fragrance. I belive it.

  7. I got my quince tree tree at Molbaks about 10 years ago. It’s now about 15-20 feet tall. I just harvested over 150 pounds of quince –3x larger than last year. Fruit have been as large as softballs, smaller this year from the large number that set. Quince makes far better jelly when half ripe–ie mix of yellow and green. I dumped my jelly made from fully ripe fruit.
    Quince has the highest pectin–it was used in the early days with other fruits to improve setting. Definitely no need to add any..
    I’m trying to find out what variety of tree it is–I guess I need to give Molbaks a call.

  8. Wow, Rick that’s impressive. It’s nice to grow something that thrives and quince is one such tree here. I just bought another variety Van Deman. Here’s a link to some photos that may help you identify: Quince Growing . and thanks for the jelly tips!

  9. I have what I am told is called a japanese quince, it has beautiful small red blossems and prodeuces green rock hard fruit but it is mid october and the fruit is still mostly green, here is Nova Scotia it is stillaround 12 degrees cel. most days do I pick now or what to turn yellow? I am looking to make quince marmalade, what do you think?

  10. Hi Connie, Japanese quince (Chaenomeles japonica) is an ornamental plant though from what I understand it’s fruit is still edible if cooked and used in jams, jellies and compotes. I’d pick it before the first frost and let is sit indoors until it became fragrant. It may never get soft, but it’s fruit that is not really eaten fresh, but rather cooked. If you’re making marmalade, try using a wide-hole cheese grater to grate the fruit. It cooks up nicely with lots of texture for your marmalade.

    If you really like quince, I’d say plant the edible or culinary variety, Chaenomeles oblonga, which is more like a small tree than thorny bush and produces beautiful pear-like fruit, some with fuzzy skins. I’ll post some photos shortly as mine are ripening on the tree. Good growing! Tom

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