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What Does A Quince Taste Like?

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A whole quince next to a sliced half

A quince is a vibrant yellow fruit that looks much like a pear. In the United States, you’ll see them pop up in Farmers’ Markets and supermarkets from October to December.

If you’re new to this fruit then you may be wondering what quince tastes like. We’re about to take a close look at this fruit’s flavor, texture, and other handy info like how to use them in the kitchen.

What do quinces taste like?

A raw quince has a sour, astringent flavor with tough, grainy textured flesh and thin leathery skin. Its fragrance offers a tempting combination of pear, apple, and citrus.

Once cooked, the aroma intensifies and the quince’s texture softens and transforms from white to pink. Sour, bitter notes lose their intensity and develop a subtle sweetness.

People often compare the texture of cooked quince to apple. But you’ll find it doesn’t hold its shape as well and won’t have any snap. Instead, quince flesh turns squishy and jelly-like as it breaks down, more like a cooked pear.

The flavor of a quince will vary depending on the variety. In the United States, the fruit’s flesh is less juicy and denser than the ones sold at markets in Southeast Asia and other tropical parts of the world.

The skin of a quince is thin and perfectly edible once cooked, although some prefer to peel it. Like a pear or apple, there is a core in the middle of the fruit which should be removed.

Quince fruit taste infographicSelection and storage

Newcomers to the quince make the mistake of looking for fruit that have turned soft, but this means they’re rotten. Instead, feel the quince to ensure it’s still firm and also heavy for its size. The skin should be a bright yellow shade; green ones are under-ripe. Avoid quinces that have large bruises or soft spots.

Quinces can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Keep in mind that they release ethylene gas which will speed up the ripening process of the fruit around it. The fruit can also be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks, in loosely wrapped plastic.

Tip: To avoid bruising, store quinces in a single layer.

Commonly asked questions

What are the best quince substitutes?

To replace quince in a recipe use Asian pears, Granny Smith apples, crab apples, or Rhode Island Greening apples. Although they won’t perfectly mimic the flavor and texture, they have similar uses in cooking.

Can I eat a raw quince?

Although raw quinces are edible, they are extremely woody and difficult to chew. If the texture doesn’t put you off, the sour, bitter flavor of the uncooked fruit probably will.

Are quince seeds edible?

The seeds of a quince are inedible as they contain nitriles which can be toxic when eaten in large quantities.

Are quinces healthy to eat?

Quinces are a food rich in vitamins and minerals. They provide a good source of dietary fiber, copper, potassium, and iron. These fruit are believed to offer various health benefits including boosting the immune system, improving skin health, and helping maintain healthy blood pressure levels.

How to Prepare Quince

If you’re using quince in a recipe then preparation is similar to a pear. Although many cooks prefer to peel the skin off, it isn’t essential, unless it has bruises and blemishes. The fruit should be sliced into quarters, lengthways, using a sharp paring knife. Cut out the core before chopping each quarter into smaller, even-sized slices.

Culinary uses for the quince fruit

The quince is excellent for adding sweet astringent flavor and mouth-watering aroma to recipes where fruit like apples and pears are traditionally used. When combining them with other types of fruit, make allowances for their hard texture. Poach the quinces first until they are starting to soften, then combine with the other ingredients.

Some excellent uses for quinces include:

  • Combine with sugar and boil into marmalade, jam, or jelly. The fruits are pectin packed so setting the preserves is easy.
  • Make quince paste, also known as “membrillo”, and serve sliced with crisp bread or cheese. This paste is also great for roasting with poultry or pork. It adds flavor and helps tenderize the meat.
  • Combine slices or par-cooked quince with apple and bake in a pie.
  • Blend the juice with other sweet ingredients like banana and honey for a refreshing beverage.
  • Sauté the fruit with carrots, onions, and leeks for a quick and easy dish.

Uses for quince collageHow to poach a quince

Poached quince is a popular method of cooking this fruit and is quick and easy.

Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 1 ½ hours

Ingredients

  • 4 large quinces
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 vanilla pod, sliced lengthways
  • 1 lemon, halved

Method

  1. Peel, core, and quarter the quinces before adding them to a large pot.
  2. Pour in enough water to cover the fruit, along with sugar, honey, vanilla, and lemon. Heat on high until the water starts boiling then reduce to a simmer and place the lid on the pot.
  3. Cook the fruit on the lowest possible heat for 1 ½ hours or until they’re softened.
  4. Once cooked, turn off the heat and allow the fruit to cool for a few minutes in the liquid.
  5. Serve quinces hot or cold, with ice cream, yogurt, cake, or alongside savory dishes like roast lamb.

Note: You can cook whole quinces unpeeled, but large fruit may take up to 4 hours to cook.

Fast facts

  • Quince paste makes an excellent substitute for guava paste.
  • The quince is a member of the Rosaceae family and its botanical name is Cydonia oblonga. It is the sole member of the genus Cydonia and should not be confused with flowering quinces (Chaenomeles).
  • Quinces are from the same family as the pear, apple, and loquat.
  • A ripe quince is similar in color to a Golden Delicious.
  • Fruit grows on a deciduous tree that can range from 10-20 feet in height once fully grown.

Interesting reading:
What does a cacao fruit taste like?

Summing up

The quince is a fragrant fruit that is sweet and slightly tart once cooked. Few people eat it raw. Even if you enjoy highly astringent foods, the floury mouthfeel isn’t pleasant.

The quince is high in pectin, making it ideal for setting as a jam or jelly. It is also delicious poached or baked, perfect for desserts or balancing heavy meat dishes.

What is your favorite type of fruit that doesn’t get much atttention? Please let us know in the comments below.