Have you ever heard of a quince? They look a bit odd and fuzzy, but have a surprising charm that can only be enjoyed during the cooler months.
Quinces have hard, bright yellow skins similar to the exterior of a squash, and look like a mixture between an apple and a pear. In its paradoxical nature, the inside white flesh is sour and has a strong astringent taste, making it inedible when raw unlike other fruit. However, this doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed. Quinces are perfect for jams and conserves as they contain a high amount of pectin. This soluble dietary fibre has a complex set of polysaccharides and is found in the fruit’s skin(1). Pectin is utilised as a gelling agent for sweets and lollies, fillings, fruit drinks and medicine.Willats WT, McCartney L, Mackie W, Knox JP. Pectin: cell biology and prospects for functional analysis. In: Carpita NC, Campbell M, Tierney M, editors. Plant Cell Walls: Springer Netherlands; 2001. p. 9-27. A raw 100g quince provides a good source of dietary fibre, and a great amount of vitamin C that nearly satisfies the RDI for adults. Keep in mind that boiling the fruit will decrease the vitamin C content as it a water soluble vitamin.Lee SK, Kader AA. Preharvest and postharvest factors influencing vitamin C content of horticultural crops. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 2000;20(3):207-20.
|Nutrient||100g of Raw Quince|
|Energy, including dietary fibre||242||kJ|
Another way to enjoy quinces is by poaching or roasting slowly for a long time which may retain more of the vitamin C content. When cooked, their yellow skin turns a stunning bright rosy hue with a unique perfume with hints of vanilla, musk, pineapple and cherry blossom. The flavour of the fruit becomes sweet yet tart, making the cooking time worth the wait. To further enhance the quince’s unique taste, they can be cooked with a variety of herbs and spices, like cinnamon, cardamom and lemon myrtle, and citrus rind, especially clementine.
The golden fruit originated from the Middle East to the Mediterranean outlands. Commonly suggested as the famous forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden and the sacred fruit of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, quinces have been enjoyed for centuries and by different cultures. As the quince travelled around the world, different interpretation of cooking methods, techniques and recipes were created to enjoy the distinctive fruit. In the Middle Ages, the English used quinces in marmalades while the Iranians added them to meat soups and created syrups to sweeten refreshments. More recently, Americans have introduced small cuts of quinces into their traditional apple pies to add tartness and interest.
Quinces are not the most popular fruit in Australia with the abundance of tropical fruit available, but these nubby fruit thrive in the Southern climate. These unusual fruit flourish in the cooler Autumn months of March, April and May and can be found in independent green grocers and European food stores. When buying quinces, look for golden yellow skin, with no green or soft patches. They should have be smooth and be very firm. They are best kept in a bowl at room temperature for up to a week, or stored in the refrigerator in an airtight bag for as long as two months. Enjoy them while they are around, you won’t regret it!
My favourite quince recipes:
- Quince and Vanilla Sorbet – The Splendid Table
- Lamb, Quince and Saffron Tagine – Feast
- Quince Jelly with Star Anise – Martha Stewart
References [ + ]
|1.||⇪||Willats WT, McCartney L, Mackie W, Knox JP. Pectin: cell biology and prospects for functional analysis. In: Carpita NC, Campbell M, Tierney M, editors. Plant Cell Walls: Springer Netherlands; 2001. p. 9-27.|
|2.||⇪||Lee SK, Kader AA. Preharvest and postharvest factors influencing vitamin C content of horticultural crops. Postharvest Biology and Technology. 2000;20(3):207-20.|