I am a big fan of Punk Domestics. It's a wonderful site that I discovered when first searching for canning recipes at our previous home. It is loaded with things that a true homesteader would love. When first snooping around the site, I came across a category for quince. An unusual fruit that was brand new to me, yeah, even at my age I have never heard of, seen or tasted it before. I read that it is kin to apples and pears and people seemed to really love it, and I've wanted to get my hands on some ever since.
Skip forward to the day we moved to our new life here at the homestead. We wondered around for hours, inspecting every nook and cranny of the property, our eyes wide open in amazement at each new discovery. We were clueless as to what some of the plantings were and watched everything carefully for the first sign of flowers and fruit. Several months later we believed we knew everything about the land. And then we just found this:
A quince tree!!! What?! For me?! This is one of the most awesome things we've discovered so far... right up there with finding the property in the first place. Whooda thunk that I would have so many fruits for canning right on my own property? Grapes, blackberries, pears, plums, lemons and now, quince. I did a bit of research and found that we may have an oddly large plant for the area, since it usually is more shrubby in Northern climates. The only problem is that it's growing right next to the house where we planned to expand our square footage. Well, too bad for the house! 🙂
The fruit itself is very odd indeed. Sorta shaped like a pear, sorta looks like an apple, sorta fuzzy like a peach. They're the size of a large Fuji apple and starts out candy apple green and ripens to a bright yellow. Though it's a fruit, the distinct fragrance it puts off is like perfume (or a rose bush*) when fully ripe. To reveal its leathery peel just wash** the fuzz right off. Trying to eat it raw is kinda hard to do because it's tough. The texture of the flesh is similar to a hard pear (fibrous) so it's always better when it's cooked. Overripe fruit may soften up..? But it screams 'cook me first!' since it will be a much more pleasant experience after turning it into a jam or butter, etc. Hmm, what other quirks does this fruit have?
Don't expect perfection out these babies. They will be odd-shaped, off-colored, and no two fruits are alike. And they will also make one awesome centerpiece for a dinner party since they are very unique and fragrant. Give your guests something to talk about!
Tip: Don't have a run-in with a flower-loving friend! Although summer is long gone, the fragrance still attracts bees, birds and more. Pick 'em carefully.
There are some things about it that are "normal". As with any fruit, you can pick it as it begins to ripen and let it sit on your counter to continue ripening. (Speed things up by putting them in a paper bag and store in a cool place.) Doing so can save it from a bad bug invasion. And since it has a good supply of pectin, it can be boiled and strained for a liquid pectin canning helper.
As I figure this fruit out I'll put up more info right here. I am so excited about this discovery that I have dubbed this tree "Queen Of The Garden" and we are nothing but her guests here.
*Info: It's no coincidence the quince fruit smells like a rose. It's in the same family! The Rosaceae family of plants has several tribes in it which means quince is not only kin to apples and pears, it's also related to apricots, plums, cherries, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, almonds, and ornamental trees and shrubs such as roses, meadowsweets, photinias, firethorns, rowans, and hawthorns. (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosaceae)
**Tip: If you have a cold storage, this fruit will keep very well and be available throughout winter. But don't get it wet prior to storing or it will mold. Just use a cloth to wipe off the fuzz prior to storage and you're good to go!
Recipe: Apple-Quince Jelly