Quinces resemble knobbly, misshapen golden apples with patches of downy fuzz on their skin. Their unremarkable exterior appearance, however, belies the culinary joy this fruit can bestow. Their flavor is unique, difficult to characterize but often described as a cross between an apple, a pineapple and a pear. Most notably, the quince has a heady, intense floral fragrance unlike any other fruit. When cooked, quinces become flavorful and tender, with most varieties turning a deep pink or rose color that’s quite beautiful.
Quince paste (membrillo) is a very popular product that is widely available in specialty gourmet markets and cheese shops. This delicious condiment is traditionally served with salty cheese, most notably Manchego, Spain’s most famous sheep’s milk cheese.
With their high pectin content, quinces make excellent jams, jellies and chutneys, especially if they're underripe or tinged with green. Quince’s tart flavor works well in both savory and sweet dishes; use them just about anywhere you’d put apples or pears — in pies, cakes, sauces, crumbles, sorbets, compotes or stuffings. The fruit’s signature tart-sweet flavor also works exceptionally well in braises, tagines and stews as an unexpected counterbalance to rich, fatty meats, duck and goose.
Why choose organic?
Choose organic whenever you can to help keep the residues of conventional agricultural pesticides and fertilizers out of your food. Organic produce is grown without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, using sustainable farming methods that protect the environment and help keep pesticides out of our soil, air, water and food supply. Organic food is the healthiest choice for people and the planet — and we think it tastes better, too!
How to select and store quince
- Peak quince season is October through early January. Look for large, firm fruit with no spots or discolorations, colored a deep, bright yellow with no sign of green.
- Downy fuzz on the skin is a sign that the quinces are extra-fresh. Smell the fruit: it should be abundantly fragrant with hints of honey, pineapple and guava. Placed in a bowl in your kitchen, they will perfume the air with their extraordinary scent.
- At home, leave your quinces at cool room temperature for up to 2 weeks, or store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Tips for using quince
- Because quinces are so firm, they can be difficult to prepare. Their thin skin adds an unpleasant bitterness when cooked, so peel the quince first.
- The core of a quince is very large and has a rock-hard sheath around the seeds. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the quince’s skin, just as you would for an apple. Then cut the fruit lengthwise into wedges, either through the core or around it. Discard the core and sheath, then slice or dice the fruit as needed for your recipe.
- Like apples, quince flesh discolors when exposed to air. To avoid browning, drop cut pieces of fruit into lemon water or cider.