Satisfying Your Curiosity About Quince

Quinces are the sole members of the genus Cydonia. They belong to the Rosaceae family, along with strawberriesblackberriesraspberriescherries, plumsapricots, peachescherries, apples, nectarines, pears, almonds, and ornamental trees and shrubs (such as roses, meadowsweets, photinias, firethorns, rowans, and hawthorns).

Quinces originated in the Caucasus, a mountainous region between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, where an irregularly shaped variety still grows wild.

Greek writings around 600 BC mention quince as a ritual item in wedding ceremonies. Because quinces were actually cultivated prior to apples, references to apples in the Song of Solomon may have been quinces.

Quince cultivation began in Mesopotamia, an area in what is now northern Iraq, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. Between 200 and 100 BC, Greeks cultivated these “golden apples,”  and they reached Palestine by 100 BC.

Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella (4–c. 70 AD), an agricultural writer of the Roman empire, described three varieties of quinces he named the sparrow apple, golden apple, and the must apple. Pliny the Elder ( 23–79 AD), a Roman naturalist and writer, described the Mulvian variety, a cultivated quince, as the only one that could be eaten raw.

Around 763, following their battles for power with the Byzantines, the Arabs moved their capital from Damascus to create the walled city of Baghdad. Travelers brought cinnamon and rhubarb to Baghdad from China to trade. From India, they brought coconuts. From Isfahan in Persia, they brought quinces, apples, saffron, and salt.

In 812, Charlemagne ordered that quince trees be planted in the royal garden. Chaucer mentions quince using the name coines, a word that comes from the French coing.

When European and Near Eastern immigrants began to settle in the New World, they planted quince in North America. A March 16, 1629 entry in the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s Memorandum listed quince as one of the seeds requested from England. By 1720, quince was thriving in Virginia. Many home gardens throughout the colonies were growing quince trees; however, apples quickly overcame them in popularity.

Quince likely traveled eastward through India, China, and Japan and finally south to New Zealand. During the 18th century, when British colonists were settling in Australia and New Zealand, those in Australia became dependent on many imported foods brought by ships from Britain. New Zealand colonists, however, traded with the Maori people for fresh fruits and vegetables, including quince.

In the United States, quines never became as popular as sweet fruits like apples. In the 1850s,  a Texan grew fruit on his large land grant, including quince, peaches, figs, raspberries, pomegranates, and plums. Quinces were more popular in some Latin American countries, especially Uruguay. A nineteenth-century Spanish explorer visited Chile and wrote about quinces that were quite acidic and astringent, but that developed a sweetness if allowed to fully ripen on the tree. The common practice of eating raw quinces in South America and Mexico surprised early explorers who only experienced them as hard and acidic.

In the Middle East, quince is considered a common food, and, though it is sour, is eaten raw as well as cooked. Quince is also popular in Germany and South Africa, countries whose cuisine tends to be high in fat. The high acidity in quince counteracts the greasiness of the foods and is often served in the form of a sauce, like applesauce, as an accompaniment to fatty foods.

Today, quince is considered a specialty fruit in the United States, where there are very few trees in production; however, quince is widely grown in Turkey, South America, and throughout the Mediterranean.

Quince can:

  1. Help prevent cancer: The high level of antioxidants in quince, including phenolic and other phytochemical compounds, can neutralize or eliminate free radicals in your body. Free radicals are the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism than can cause healthy cells to mutate or die. The antioxidants quince have been directly connected to reduced chances of developing various types of cancer.
  2. Maintain healthy weight: Quince is high in fiber, which helps you feel full and keeps your gastrointestinal system working more efficiently and regularly. By improving your digestive health, you may have more energy and more easily keep your weight down.
  3. Prevent gastrointestinal disease: The fiber in quince can also help to prevent certain gastrointestinal conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), various cancers, or diverticulitis. The catechin and epicatechin in the fiber bind with certain cancer-causing toxins, thereby protecting the mucus membrane of your colon.
  4. Promote healthy skin and hair: Antioxidants and vitamins in quince are very beneficial for keeping your skin looking healthy and young. Antioxidants eliminate the damage that free radicals do to skin cells, thereby reducing the appearance of wrinkles, eliminating blemishes, and helping to defend your skin against the effects of ultraviolet radiation. The iron and copper in quince are necessary for the production of red blood cells. These red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body, including to your skin and scalp, which can increase hair follicle health and stimulate growth.
  5. Manage blood pressure: Potassium is one of the most important minerals in your body, because it is essential for maintaining blood pressure and facilitating effective fluid transfer in your cells. Potassium causes your blood vessels and arteries to relax, thereby reducing the strain on your cardiovascular system. This can decrease the chances of developing conditions like atherosclerosis, which can lower your risk for coronary heart diseases, heart attacks, and strokes.
  6. Control allergic reactions: When applied as a salve or gel on your skin, quince can benefit atopic dermatitis and other similar skin conditions. The high levels of vitamin C also help to control inflammation and improve the health and appearance of your skin.
  7. Boost your immune system: The antioxidant phytochemicals in quince, along with vitamin C, boost your immune system in various ways. Vitamin C stimulates your immune system to increase the supply of white blood cells, which are the first line of defense against pathogens in your body.

Nutrients in 100 Grams of Fresh, Raw Quince

Nutrient

Amount

Daily Value

vitamin C

15 mg

25%

fiber

1.9 g

8%

potassium

197 mg

6%

copper

0.1 mg

6%

carbohydrates

15.3 g

5%

iron

0.7 mg

4%

Calories

57

3%

phosphorus

17 mg

2%

magnesium

8 mg

2%

vitamin B6

0.049 mg

2%

riboflavin

0.033 mg

2%

vitamin A

40 IU

1%

calcium

11 mg

1%

folate

3 µg

1%

protein

0.4 g

1%

niacin

0.2 mg

1%

pantothenic acid

0.1 mg

1%

thiamine

0.013 mg

1%

sodium

4 mg

0.17%

fat

0.1 g

0.15%

cholesterol

0 mg

0%

Quince is generally available year-round. California-grown quince (pineapple variety) is harvested in the fall. Choose fruits that are firm and yellow. They should be relatively large in size and free of bruises. Handle the fruit carefully, as quinces bruise easily.

Most people don’t want to simply bite into a quince, which has a tough rind and flesh with a less than pleasant taste.

Wash and cut each quince into quarters and peel off the skin. Use a knife to remove the core with the seeds and any areas that are hard.

Quince starts out golden in color, but the flesh turns light pink and becomes sweet when cooked. Quince can be made into jam or jelly, or can be baked or poached as a dessert.

Here are some ideas for using quince:

  • Jellied: Quince is full of pectin, the stuff that makes jelly “gel.” For this reason, you’ll most commonly find quince in jams, jellies, compotes, and marmalades.
  • Roasted: Roasting quinces in the oven tones down the sourness and softens them up nicely.
  • Baked: Quince is a wonderful choice to use in baked pies, tarts, and crisps. Due to their particularly hard flesh, you may want to lightly steam, sauté, or poach the fruit before you use it in your recipe. Maple syrup used as a sweetener will bring out the aromatics of quince, and spices like cinnamon, cloves, or star anise will also complement the fruit.

This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this website to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s