The aromatic quince

Many, many years ago, when we lived in Oldham, Lancashire, we had a largish garden able to accommodate large shrubs. I had always loved Japonica, the ornamental quince; I loved its black bark, brilliant green leaves and above all those waxy petalled flowers. I remember them from my childhood as being a dark, rich red, thick and looking almost edible. We bought one, and it liked us and it grew.

When we moved from the north to the south-west, the Japonica came with us and was planted in our garden ten years ago when we moved to this house. It flourished and began to bear fruit, green knobbly fruit and being me and never wanting to waste anything, year after year I wondered what I could do with them and whether they were edible. Silly me, of course they are because the Japonica is after all an ornamental quince!

The first year I realised this I collected them all, they were big fruit now, with a gorgeous blush. They are extremely hard and peeling them was difficult. The flesh is pale and creamy and they are full of glossy black pips. I made some jam and I made some chilli jam. Delicious! The fruit is sharp and aromatic and with a most delicate yet pronounced flavour.

The next year a friend gave me quinces from her bush – hers were much yellower than mine and with a very strong lemony flavour. This time I used the fruit in pies and as a dessert… as well as making chilli jam!

This year I would like to make quince wine….


  1. Isabel Lunn

    I too love quinces and when I go to France stock up on quince jelly. It’s not so easy to find here and is rather expensive. I discovered a quince paté in Espelette in the Basque country and on a visit to Madrid last year found it being served for breakfast. I haven’t tried cooking with them yet.


    1. Lois

      They are so delicious Isabel. I don’t bother peeling them now, I just cut the largest ones into chunks and cook them with skin on and pips in – just remove them later. next time I make some jam (not so good at fiddling with muslin bags!!) I’ll bring some on our next visit up north and give it to you! Waitrose sells quince paste but you’re right, it is so expensive!


  2. rossmountney

    I have them too, and love the cheery early flowers – although not as conscientious as you with the fruits to my shame! We also have the traditional quince that has huge flowers and pear-like yellowy fruits. I really ought to do something with them. One day…!


  3. Nisha

    Well I’m sure glad I read this!
    Quince is not a common fruit where I’m from but a month back the boyfriend and I were in a supermarket and found these quinces in the fruit aisle. I heard of it before but never tasted it. We were too scared to try it because we had no idea how it tasted!
    Will you be posting recipes maybe? Quince pies sounds lovely, and as for wine, oh my, sounds like heaven! 🙂


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