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Quince

Quince

It's the ugly duckling of the fruit world, but that doesn't stop us from loving everything about the quince: its fresh taste, fruity smell, lumpy look and many culinary uses.

Nutritional Highlights

  • Two small quinces, or 140 grams of fruit, contains 25 percent of your Daily Value of vitamin C, making the quince an excellent source of this essential antioxidant.
  • Quinces are also a good source of iron, a mineral that carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. Without enough iron, you can feel worn out.

History

The quince is often described as "unappreciated," "misunderstood," "mysterious" and "neglected," yet this wasn't always the case. Quinces used to be the superstars of the world of fruit. In ancient Greece and Rome, people adored the quince, handing them out as wedding gifts, stewing them into jams and a thick candy called quince cheese, and even revering them in myth. (Those "golden apples" Hercules had to steal as one of his 12 labors? Quinces.) Even a few centuries ago, nearly every home in colonial America had a quince tree in its garden. But in the 1890s, the quince fell into decline, thanks to the popularity of the apple and a new product: powdered gelatin. However, this fruit is coming back into favor, thanks to its unique taste and its suitability for jams, jellies and marmalades. Even the term "marmalade" comes from marmelo, the Portuguese word for quince.

Varieties

There are dozens of varieties of quince, but they're all pretty similar. They have a thick, fuzzy, bright yellow skin, a pear-like shape and an astringent taste that is sweetens during cooking.

When Are Quinces in Season?

Very few quinces are grown in the U.S.—about 250 acres' worth, all told. (Compare that to 350,000 acres of apples.) So, quinces tend to be available when they are in season abroad. They're easiest to find between August and December, when the growing season peaks in Chile.

How to Choose Quinces

Look for quinces with firm, fuzzy, yellow skin. A few green highlights are fine. A good quince has a sweet, pineapple-like smell. Avoid soft or discolored fruits, and be careful handling good quinces, because they bruise very easily, even through their thick skin.

How to Store Quinces

Quinces lose their fuzz as they ripen, so leave them in a fruit bowl until they're fuzz-free. A ripe quince will last for a week at room temperature, or three weeks in the refrigerator.

How to Cook Quinces

Even though they have a sweet smell, most quinces need to be cooked in order to remove their tartness. To prep a quince, rinse it with tap water and peel away its thick skin with a paring knife. Next, core the fruit and cut it into sections. These can be marinated in sugar and then stewed, baked, fried or roasted.

Key Measurements

Recipes typically call for cups (sliced) or individual quinces (peeled, cored).

Substitutions

In place of quinces, try using tart Granny Smith apples or sweet Asian pears, which both keep their shape while cooking.

Quince in Recipes

Try using this fruit in any recipe that requires you to cook Granny Smith apples.

Quinces go great in Curried Butternut Squash Sauté along with onions and brown sugar.

Want to make a hot, hearty, quince-based breakfast? Use them in Apple-Cranberry Strudel or Healthified Apple Griddle Cakes. You won't regret it.

Reviews & Comments

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