Quince is believed to predate the apple, and the apple goes way back — unless, of course, all those ancient mentions like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden were indeed referring to apples and not the quince. Greek mythology associates the quince with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and many believe that the golden apple given to her by Paris was a quince. The Greek word for quince is kythoni, or sometimes kydoni.
It's written κυδώνι and pronounced kee-THOH-nee.
The Quince in Ancient Times
Ancient Greeks associated the quince with fertility, and it played an important role in wedding celebrations. It was offered as a gift, used to sweeten the bride's breath before entering the bridal chamber, and shared by the bride and groom. Thanks to these associations, the quince has become known as the "fruit of love, marriage, and fertility."
The Evolution of the Quince
The quince's botanical name, cydonia oblonga, derives from Kydonia on the island of Crete. It was here that the ordinary quince of old was transformed into the fruit we know today in the Mediterranean area.
What Does It Look Like?
The modern-day quince is shaped like a hybrid of an apple and pear. It has a rich yellow exterior and a strong pleasant fragrance. It's hard, acidic and astringent before cooking, but it turns red, tastes divine, and takes on the color and flavor of love when it's cooked.
Aluminum cookware will deliver the deepest red color in cooked quince.
Quinces are ripe and ready for eating in late autumn.
Cooking with Quince
Quinces are used to make marmalade, spoon sweets and jellies — they have a lot of natural pectin, a naturally occurring starch. They also make great additions to apple pies, and they're delicious when cooked with meats.
We have some favorite pork dishes in Greece made with quince, and it's also good with lamb, turkey, and duck. Quinces can be baked, just like apples.
The "Fruit of Love"
"They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand on the edge of the sand
They danced by the light of the moon."
~ "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear
Recipes with Quince
If you want to try your hand at cooking with quince and you have a sweet tooth, these recipes should hit the spot:
- Baked Quince Dessert
- Cheese & Quince Preserves
- Quince Jam
- Quince Jelly
- Quince Jellies (Candy)
- Quince Preserves
- Quince Spoon Sweet
- Spice Cake with Apples, Pears & Quince
Or you can use quince as part of a main entree. These two recipes top my list:
Quince is relatively high in carbohydrates. It's a good source of vitamin C, phosphorous and potassium.