The quince is the sole member of the genus Cydonia in the family Rosaceae (which also contains apples and pears, among other fruits). It is a small deciduous tree that bears a pome fruit, similar in appearance to a pear, and bright golden-yellow when mature. Throughout history the cooked fruit has been used as food, but the tree is also grown for its attractive pale pink blossom and other ornamental qualities.
The tree grows 5 to 8 metres (16 to 26 ft) high and 4 to 6 metres (13 to 20 ft) wide. The fruit is 7 to 12 centimetres (2.8 to 4.7 in) long and 6 to 9 centimetres (2.4 to 3.5 in) across.
It is native to rocky slopes and woodland margins in South-west Asia, Turkey and Iran although it can be grown successfully at latitudes as far north as Scotland. It should not be confused with its relatives, the Chinese Quince, Pseudocydonia sinensis, or the Flowering Quinces of genus Chaenomeles, either of which are sometimes used as culinary substitutes.
The immature fruit is green with dense grey-white pubescence, most of which rubs off before maturity in late autumn when the fruit changes colour to yellow with hard, strongly perfumed flesh. The leaves are alternately arranged, simple, 6–11 cm (2–4 in) long, with an entire margin and densely pubescent with fine white hairs. The flowers, produced in spring after the leaves, are white or pink, 5 cm (2 in) across, with five petals.
Quince is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including brown-tail, Bucculatrix bechsteinella, Bucculatrix pomifoliella, Coleophora cerasivorella, Coleophora malivorella, green pug and winter moth.
Four other species previously included in the genus Cydonia are now treated in separate genera. These are Pseudocydonia sinensis and the three flowering quinces of eastern Asia in the genus Chaenomeles. Another unrelated fruit, the bael, is sometimes called the "Bengal quince".
Some varieties of quince, such as 'Aromatnaya' and 'Kuganskaya' do not require cooking and can be eaten raw.However, most varieties of quince are too hard, astringent and sour to eat raw unless "bletted" (softened by frost and subsequent decay). High in pectin, they are used to make jam, jelly and quince pudding, or they may be peeled, then roasted, baked or stewed; pectin levels diminish as the fruit ripens. The flesh of the fruit turns red after a long cooking time. The very strong perfume means they can be added in small quantities to apple pies and jam to enhance the flavour. Adding a diced quince to apple sauce will enhance the taste of the apple sauce with the chunks of relatively firm, tart quince. The term "marmalade", originally meaning a quince jam, derives from marmelo, the Portuguese word for this fruit.
The fruit can be used to make a type of wine. Because of its often high acidity, which is mainly due to its malic acid content, these wines are usually sweet dessert wines that are high in alcohol. In the Balkans and elsewhere, quince brandy and quince liqueur are made. In Carolina in 1709, John Lawson allowed that he was "not a fair judge of the different sorts of Quinces, which they call Brunswick, Portugal and Barbary", but he noted "of this fruit they make a wine or liquor which they call Quince-Drink, and which I approve of beyond any that their country affords, though a great deal of cider and perry is there made, The Quince-Drink most commonly purges.
Quince is native to the Eurasian area, including Uzbekistan, Armenia, Turkey, Hungary, Macedonia, and other nearby regions. Historically, quince may have played a much larger role than most people expect. Some researchers actually think that when “apples” were referenced in ancient history, they were more likely talking about quince, which were much more common in those areas.
You can utilize quince in jams, jellies, and puddings, as well as used in a similar way to pears as a side dish or a breakfast food. Different countries use quince in different ways, often using the juice as a flavoring agent. However, the real benefit of quince is eating the skin and the fleshy fruit, since it is packed with beneficial nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, phenolic compounds, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.
Nutritional Value of Quince
Given below is the amount of nutrients present in 100 gm of quince:
Carbohydrates - 15.3 gm
Sugars - 12.53 gm
Dietary fiber - 1.9 gm
Fat - 0.10 gm
Protein - 0.4 gm
Water - 83.8 gm
Vitamin A - 40 μg
Niacin (Vitamin B3) - 0.2 mg
Vitamin B6 - 0.04 mg
Folate (Vitamin B9) - 8 μg
Vitamin C - 15.0 mg
Calcium - 8 mg
Iron - 0.7 mg
Magnesium - 8 mg
Phosphorus - 17 mg
Potassium - 197 mg
Sodium - 4 mg
Energy - 60 kcal (240 kJ)
Health & Nutrition Benefits of Eating Quince
Being rich in dietary fiber, quince is good for those people who are trying to lose weight and maintain a healthy body.
Quince boasts of antioxidant properties, which helps the body fight against free radicals and reduces the risk of cancer.
Researches have revealed that quinces might be rich in various anti-viral properties.
Consumption of quince has been found to be beneficial for people suffering from gastric ulcer.
Quince juice is known to have tonic, antiseptic, analeptic, astringent and diuretic properties.
It is believed that eating quince is good for maintaining the optimum health of an individual.
Regular consumption of quince not only aids in digestion, but also helps lower cholesterol.
The presence of potassium in quince helps the body keep high blood pressure in check.
The vitamin C present in quince helps reduce the risk of heart disease in individuals.
If consumed on a regular basis, quince proves beneficial for those afflicted with tuberculosis, hepatic insufficiency, diarrhea and dysentery.
Those suffering from liver diseases and eye diseases would surely benefit from regular quince consumption.
Being rich in antioxidants, quince is believed to be helpful in relieving stress and attaining calm.
Quince is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, while having lots of vitamin C, dietary fiber and copper.
Quince juice is good for those suffering from anemia, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory illnesses, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and even asthma.
The juice as well as pulp of boiled or baked quince fruit serves as a good anti-emetic remedy.
Availability of Quince in India
Quince is a temperate fruit growing in just a few area of India, namely Jammu and Kashmir. Limited production also occurs in Himachal Pradesh. Sir Walter Roper Lawrence extolled the quinces growing near the Dal Lake as far back as his 1895 book, “The Valley of Kashmir.” These regions are some of the only areas capable of growing the fruit, as quince requires periodic cold temperatures nearing 7 Celsius in order to flower with a warmer, temperate climate throughout the rest of the year.
According to the 2000 edition of “The Journal of the Indian Botanical Society,” Kashmir cultivates approximately 470 hectares of quince, mostly in the Baramulla and Budgam districts. These trees possess great genetic variability, holding promise for improved and refined varieties.
The season arrives in late fall—just as the surrounding trees slowly change colors, quince fruits go from brown to glorious yellow and herald their arrival with a fragrant, tropical smell.
Where to find Quince in India
Despite being unknown throughout the rest of the country, quince is common in Kashmir. Those frequenting the area during the autumn months are bound to stumble across these hardy fruits. In fact, most every Kashmiri has heard of quince based on its ubiquity in several regional dishes and stews. Quince is not shipped to many other parts of the country, making it rather difficult to find outside of these areas.
Taste of Quince
Quinces can be a bit like guava: immensely promising based on its powerful, glorious aroma, only to disappoint once bitten. Quince has a remarkably tough texture, making it nearly impossible to get a nibble of the dry fruit. These efforts to get even a small bite are not rewarded either, as the taste is astringent, tart, tannic and generally unpalatable.
Though California growers have managed to turn some varieties of quince into a soft, juicy and non-astringent fruit, such types are the exception and have not made their way to India’s soils.
Quince, like plantain, only comes alive when it’s cooked. When heated for a lengthy amount of time, its flesh turns a beautiful rosy color and becomes soft, tender, tangy yet mildly sweet from the concentrated sugars. Heating removes the bitter astringency of the fruit, making it significantly more palatable. Some cooking techniques also impart quince’s rich aroma into certain foods and drinks.
Quince Brinjal (Bumtchoonth Wangun)
1 quince, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 slender eggplant (light pink-purple ones preferred)
1 1/2 T fennel powder
2 t coriander powder
1 t ginger powder
1/2 t turmeric powder
1 t cayenne pepper powder
1 green cardamom
2 green chillies, slit (optional)
1/2 t Kashmiri garam masala
2 T yoghurt
a pinch hing
2-3 T mustard oil
salt to taste
Section the Quince- 10-12 slices
Make a thin paste of all the spice powders except the hing/ Asafoetida, Keep aside,
Heat oil and saute the Quince sections
Drain and keep aside,
Saute the Brinjal slices till golden
Add Hing to the rest of the oil [ add more oil in tsps, if needed]
Add cardamom, cloves and tejpatta,
Turn down heat and add the spice paste,
Cook for a couple of minutes,
Add yogurt paste and cook for a couple of minutes,
Add the quince and eggplants,
Add the slit green chillies,
Add enough water to cover the vegetables
Cook on medium high for about 30 minutes until the quince is cooked.
Season with garam masala and serve.