Season for Quince: October - December
You may not even know what a quince is (pronounced kwintz), as it was once more popular than it is today. Reason being most probably, it's pretty much inedible raw as it carries a tart and astringent flavor and dry texture. But those details aside, this fruit related to the apple and the pear has an abundance of uses and can be a seriously yummy culinary asset as it transforms through the cooking process. So fragrant is the quince that is was once popular as a room deodorizer, the Ancient Romans using it as a perfume.
How to Buy and Store Quince
Select quinces that are large and firm to the touch, and as yellow as can be with very little green. To store quinces, wrap them and they can be refrigerated for up to two months. You can also layer them on a sheet, preferably not touching, and keep them in a cool dry place. Try to keep your quinces away from apples and other fruit, as they might gain a quince-esque flavor. That's how strong quince are.
How to Cook Quince
Most varieties of quince are too hard and sour to eat raw, but instead work beautifully to make jam, jelly and quince pudding. They can also be peeled, then roasted, baked or stewed and turn a beautiful pink color. Its aromatic qualities mean they can be added in small quantities to apple pies and jams to enhance the flavor. Adding a diced quince to applesauce will enhance its taste. The term "marmalade" comes from marmelo, the Portuguese word for quince - the OG, if you will. Quince can also be used to make a sweet dessert wine.
If you're considering concocting some quince jam of your own, read Canning and Preserving: Revival of a Lost Art to get things started.
Health Benefits of Quince
Quinces have a long history as an herbal remedy for several ailments. In Chinese medicine, the stembark is used as an astringent for ulcers, and the fruits used for their antivinous, astringent, carminative and peptic qualities. The seeds - soaked or boiled in water - release a jelly-like substance that has been used for sore throats and eye lotions, as it is effective against inflammation of the mucous membranes. Regular consumption of quince not only aids in digestion, but also helps lower cholesterol. Quinces are also a good source of vitamins A & C, fiber, and iron.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Quince
Owing to the quince's thin skin and close relation to both the pear and the apple, you'd be prudent to purchase your quince organically. Apples have been found to be highly contaminated by the Environmental Working Group with pesticide residues - and we think it's safe to say the quince goes along with that. Also, try to buy your quince in season or at your local farmers market, as they are notorious for being imported from faraway lands.