Quinces are not only very healthy, but also very tasty. Here are tips for harvesting and processing the yellow all-rounders.
Quince (Cydonia oblonga) is one of the oldest cultivated fruits. The Babylonians cultivated this fruit as early as 6,000 years ago. Even today, most varieties are found in the region around Iran and the Caucasus. But the quince has now become equally at home in temperate regions, is readily harvested and processed into delicious and healthy dishes.
The bright yellow quinces smell so beguiling that you would love to eat them straight from the tree. However, this is not a good idea: Quinces are not exactly a culinary delight when eaten raw, as they are hard and bitter. As a puree, jelly or compote, however, they make the hearts of gourmets beat faster. In addition, a quince contains more vitamin C than an apple, and many other health-promoting substances that have made quince interesting for medicine since time immemorial. Quinces are divided into two groups of varieties, the apple quince /Cydonia oblonga var. maliformis) and the pear quince (Cydonia oblonga var. oblonga). These names are due to the shape of the fruit.
The perfect time to harvest quinces
When harvesting quinces, the right time is crucial. Although they do not ripen until October, it is essential to harvest them before the first frost. The fruits, some of which are still very hard, can still ripen indoors. You can tell when the fruit is ripe by the way it completely turns color and by the way it loses its thick, downy fur. If you want to process the fruit into quince jam or jelly, you should harvest it even earlier. At the beginning of ripeness, their pectin content, or gelling ability, is at its highest.
Tips for storing quinces
Early harvested quinces can be stored in the cellar or in another cool place for about two to four weeks. During this time they develop their full aroma. Fully ripe fruits, on the other hand, should be processed directly. It is best to store quinces alone, as their intense aroma can spread to surrounding fruit and possibly spoil it.
The best way to process quinces
Before processing the fruit, rub off any remaining soft fur on the skin with paper towels. It will adulterate the flavor. For most recipes, do not peel quinces. If you do anyway, don’t throw the peels away. Dried, they smell heavenly and do well in herbal tea blends.
Using quinces in the kitchen
Due to their high pectin concentration, quinces gel particularly well. Roughly cut, the hard fruits need about 20 to 30 minutes to cook. They are most often made into compote, jelly, jam, fruit juice and liqueur. But also baked goods and the like get a natural sweetness and special culinary touch by adding a small amount of quince.
Recipe for quince jelly
- 2 kg (4 lbs) quinces (yields about 1 l of juice)
- 40 ml lemon juice
- 500 g jelling sugar from raw cane sugar 1:2
- 1 vanilla pod (optional)
Kitchen utensils: 1 pot, 1 kitchen towel, 4 screw jars with lids 300 ml
1. wash quinces and brush thoroughly to remove the fluff. Remove stems, blossoms, and core; cut remainder into cubes. Cover quinces with 1 1/2 liters of water, add lemon juice, bring to a boil and cook over medium heat for about 45 minutes until fruit is tender.
2. then line a large strainer with a damp straining cloth, place on a large saucepan, pour in quinces and drain juices. Weigh down if necessary so that all the juice comes out. Do not squeeze the straining cloth, however (otherwise the quince jelly will become cloudy later due to suspended solids). Allow quince juice to cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, cut vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out pith with a knife. Measure 1 liter of juice into a measuring cup, mix with preserving sugar and vanilla pulp. Bring to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat, stirring constantly, until it bubbles vigorously. Boil for about 4 minutes, do not stop stirring.
4. Remove pot from heat. Fill prepared clean jars to the brim and seal tightly immediately. Turn upside down for 10 minutes, invert again and let cool completely. Store in a cool, dark place.
Quinces in medicine
In addition to a large amount of vitamin C, quinces contain zinc, sodium, iron, copper, manganese, fluorine and plenty of folic acid. Also, similar to currants, record amounts of pectin, which promotes digestion, lowers cholesterol and binds and carries out harmful substances in the body. The tannic acids it contains, as well as vitamin A, alleviate gout and atherosclerosis. If you suffer from fatigue or feelings of weakness, you can counteract this with quince products because of the high potassium content.
However, the seeds of quinces are particularly worth mentioning. In them are found mucilage in large numbers. “Quince mucilage” used to be a widely used remedy available in pharmacies, but today, perhaps because of the name, it is somewhat out of fashion. The mucilage, applied externally, is said to help against sunburn, chapped skin, and even inflamed eyes. If you drink it, it is supposed to fight sore throat and bronchitis, as well as inflammation of the stomach and intestines.
Recipe for quince mucilage
Let 1 tablespoon of fresh quince seeds “steep” in 100ml of cold water for 12 hours. A healing quince mucilage is formed, which should be taken fresh or applied. It also performs balancing and regenerating services as a face mask.