Meech's Prolific quinces. Photo Maria Fremlin

First, I want to make it clear that I refer here to the Mediterranean fruit Cydonia oblonga, see above, and not the much smaller fruit which grows on the Japonica shrubs, sometimes also called flowering quince.

Quinces are called marmelos in Portugal where a delicious quince cheese called marmelada is made. Incidentally, marmalade - the English orange jam - was first made with quinces.

When we moved to this house, back in 1983, we planted a lot of fruit trees and even though we had run out of space at the back, I felt that we must have a quince tree as well. Eventually, we found room for it in the front garden and it has become a focus of attention when it is in blossom and later on loaded with golden fruit. With such reliable cropper I found myself tired of making so much marmelada - the Portuguese quince cheese - and felt that I had to find different ways of processing the crop. Then I remembered that Dorothy Stones, a famous mathematician and an old friend of ours, once told me that she freezes quinces and just eats them when defrosted; she said that they are lovely and not so astringent. After that I also had a good look at Claudia Roden's Book of Jewish Food and then I knew that baked quinces were going to become part of our diet.

So now I make marmelada and store it in jars or dry it in trays to be cut up later in squares. Plus, I freeze a few bags of quinces either directly from the tree or partially boiled, if times allows. Then I use them either for preserves, including the most delicious jelly, or for baking. In other words nothing is wasted but I am busy for three weeks.

Quinces are becoming more popular. Unfortunately as they are an unfamiliar fruit, most people are at a loss on how to deal with quinces. Thus waste a lot of time peeling and cutting them. Note, their skins cook down to a very thin edible peel!

Maria Fremlin, 19 January 2016

Parent categories

  • How to freeze quinces
  • Baked quinces
  • Quince comfits - Membrillo - Ladrilhos de marmelada
  • Aphrodite's pudding
  • Recipes