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Quince

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Quince - Food Photos

Quince

Photo © N. Gaifyllia, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Name in Greek and Pronunciation:

kythoni (or kydoni), κυδώνι, pronounced kee-THOH-nee

Ancient Provenance:

It is believed that the quince long preceded the apple, and that many ancient references to apples were, in fact, references to quince, including the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Greek mythology associates the quince with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and many believe that the golden apple given to her by Paris was a quince.

Ancient Greeks associated the quince with fertility, and it played an important role in wedding celebrations where it was offered as a gift, used to sweeten the bride's breath before entering the bridal chamber, and shared by bride and groom. These associations have resulted in the quince becoming known as the "fruit of love, marriage, and fertility."

Improved on Crete:

In Kydonia on the island of Crete, which is the origin of the botanical name, Cydonia oblonga, the ordinary quince of old was transformed into the fruit as we know it today in the Mediterranean area. The shape is somewhere between an apple and pear, it has a rich yellow exterior, and a strong pleasant fragrance.

The quince is hard, acidic, and astringent before cooking, but once cooked and sweetened, it turns red, tastes divine, and takes on the color and flavor of love, in addition to the name.

Availability:

Quinces are ripe and ready for eating in late autumn.

Cooking with Quince:

Quinces are used to make marmalade, spoon sweets, and jellies (they have a lot of natural pectin), pies or as additions to apple pies, and are delicious cooked with meats. In Greece we have favorite pork dishes with quince, and it's also good with lamb, turkey, and duck. Quinces can also be baked, much the same as apples.

The Orange-to-Red Color:

Aluminum cookware will deliver the deepest red color in cooked quince.

The "Fruit of Love":

    They dined on mince and slices of quince,
    Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
    And hand in hand on the edge of the sand
    They danced by the light of the moon.
~ "The Owl and the Pussycat," by Edward Lear

Recipes with Quince:

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