Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Permaculture Plants: Quince Tree


The quince - an almost forgotten fruit.

Common Name: Quince
Scientific Name: Cydonia oblonga
Family: Rosaceae

Cutting a quince can be tough - use a sharp knife and be careful.

Description:
This ancient relative to the apple resembles yellowed, large, lumpy, more pear-shaped, and slightly fuzzy apples.  The fragrance of a few ripe quinces can fill a room with an intoxicatingly sweet aroma.  These are small trees or large shrubs that are treated much like apples in cultivation.  At least once in the late autumn or early winter, I will make an apple-quince pie with currants, and it is one of my favorite holiday desserts.  The smell in the kitchen when I have the quince poaching in sweet wine with vanilla beans is heavenly.  I can’t wait to grow my own quinces, because I can’t always find them in grocery stores.  Fortunately, they will stay fresh in the refrigerator for over a month, so I grab them when I see them.

Painting of a quince - Pancrace Bessa (1772-1835)

History:
The Quince Tree is native to the central and eastern Middle East.  The cultivation of the quince likely preceded that of the apple, but it is difficult to ascertain.  Early writings which referred to the "apple" were likely referring to the quince instead.  The city-state of Kydonia on the island of Crete was where the quince was improved to the level we know today.  The scientific name of the quince is Cydonia and is an alternate spelling of Kydonia.

Trivia:

  • True Quince (C. oblonga) should not be confused with “Flowering Quince” (Chaenomeles japonica) or the “Chinese Quince” (Pseudocydonia sinensis) which are more ornamental.
  • Some believe the "forbidden fruit" in the Garden of Eden was a quince
  • The Quince is associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.
  • The Quince is known as the "fruit of love, marriage, and fertility".
  • The Quince was given as a gift to the bride to sweeten her breath before entering the bridal chamber.
  • The Quince is likely the "apple" in the Song of Solomon and the "golden apple" that Paris awarded Aphrodite.
  • The word "marmalade" originally meant a quince jam and is derived from the Portuguese word "marmelo" - the Portuguese word for quince.
  • Quince will change color from pale yellow to light pink or even deep red when cooked.
  • Turkey produces one quarter of the world's quinces.

The "fuzz" is more apparent on some varieties than others.


USING THIS PLANT
Primary Uses:
  • Fresh eating – only certain varieties.  Most need to be cooked first to get rid of the astrigency
  • Poached
  • Baked Goods
  • Preserves, Jams, Jellies (great addition of flavor and aroma when mixed with other fruits; naturally high in pectin)
  • Stewed with meats especially lamb, duck, and turkey
  • Teas
  • Wine, Cider

Secondary Uses:
  • General insect (especially bees) nectar plant
  • Specimen plant – beautiful, fragrant blossoms and older plants develop gnarled trunks
  • Due to the intense fragrance, quince can be used as a room deodorizer 
  • Quince leaves contain high levels of tannin and can be used for tanning
  • Quince are regularly used as rootstock for pears

Yield: 1 bushel (35 liters), 75 lbs 
Harvesting: September - November.  Pick when the fruit is firm, fully yellow colored (no green), and fragrant.
Storage: Will store in a cool place (like a refrigerator) for 1-2 months.  Handle carefully as quinces can bruise easily even when hard.

Cydonia oblonga - Franz Eugen Kohler (1897)

DESIGNING WITH THIS PLANT
USDA Hardiness Zone: 4-9
AHS Heat Zone: 9-3
Chill Requirement: 50-450 hours/units depending on the species and variety

Plant Type: Small Tree to Medium-sized Shrub
Leaf Type: Deciduous 
Forest Garden Use: Canopy Tree for small Forest Garden, Sub-Canopy (Understory) Tree, Shrub
Cultivars/Varieties: Many varieties available.  New varieties are resistant to many common diseases.

Pollination: Self-Pollinating/Self-Fertile
Flowering: May-August depending on the variety and USDA Zone where it is planted

Life Span:
Years to Begin Bearing: 3-5 years, depends on the rootstock.  Smaller adult plants will bear sooner.
Years to Maximum Bearing: 5-10 years
Years of Useful Life: No good references for this, but considering its size and relatives, it can likely live to be at 30 years and maybe over 50 years

The quince blossom is much larger than that of apples.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS PLANT
Size: 10-20 feet (3-7 meters) tall and wide
Roots: Shallow and flat
Growth Rate: Medium

An older, but still very productive, quince tree.

GROWING CONDITIONS FOR THIS PLANT
Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Tolerates light shade (about 50%)
Moisture: Medium, however will be more susceptible to pests and disease in the shade
pH: most species prefer fairly neutral soil (6.1 - 7.0)

Special Considerations for Growing: Tolerates juglone (natural growth inhibitor produced by Black Walnut and its relatives).  Consider using this tree as a buffer between your walnuts and other plantings.

Propagation:  Usually grafted.  Will often root from cuttings. Seeds need at least 13 weeks stratification for germination

Maintenance:
Minimal.  Quince fruit mainly on the tips of shoots made the previous year.  After the initial framework is established (much like an apple tree), minimal pruning is required.  Light pruning to let in more light and air circulation will improve yields.

Concerns:
  • Poisonous – Leaves and seeds contain a precursor to cyanide (large amounts need to be eaten for this to be toxic).
  • Humid environments are ideal for quince leaf blight – consider resistant varieties.  This is the only significant disease for the quince.
  • Since it is such a close relative to apples, many diseases and pests that affect apples can cause trouble for quinces, but usually at a much reduced rate since apples are a “weaker” plant.

9 comments:

  1. Can you name a variety that we can eat raw?
    Tkx

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    Replies
    1. there's not such a thing: it's a cooking fruit! for sweets or garnish (example: "Risotto con radicchio e cotogne" or "Filetto di maiale con cotogne")

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    2. In Turkey, we mostly eat it raw, cooking is secondary and mainly used for deserts. There are several varieties that prefers certain type of weather. Google search 'Ayva tree'.

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  2. It is truly a great and helpful piece of information and nice collection. I am satisfied that you simply shared this useful information with us.



    Apple Trees & Magnolia Trees


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  3. You are TOTALLY AWESOME!!! I do apples in September and now I have some new ideas to use!! Thank you so much for sharing!!


    Landscape Gardener Suffolk & Timber Decking Suffolk

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  4. im looking for the kind that i can eat raw. i know it exists.

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  5. I grow "Champion" Quince variety. We love it raw, but I can't say everyone would. It's a matter of taste. I have eaten almost every one I have bought raw, without knowing the variety.

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  6. The Esfahan variety from the grower in England listed in web,is the best fresh eating variety and it has a super aroma.
    Good luck, Kazazz

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  7. الفك والتركيب والتغليف والتحرك من خلال شركة نقل اثاث بجدة متميزة تحتاج الي ركن البيت للاستفادة من خدماتها التي لا تقدم غير خدمات نقل اثاث بجدة رائعة لتلبية طلبات العميل. فرؤية الشركة لدينا وضعت طريقة جيدة وضعت كخبراء في نقل الخدمات التي يحتاجها العملاء عند التعاون مع شركة نقل عفش بجدة فاختيار المواد الخاصة بك التي تستخدم في تغليف الاثاث فهذه المواد أو الأشياء ستكون موجودة على عتبة المنزل للتحرك بكل آمن و بقوة إلى المكان الذي ترغب فيه
    شركة نقل الاثاث بالدمام
    استخدام الأصول الأولى داخل الاستراتيجية التي تستخدمها شركة نقل عفش بالدمام لدينا تدفعنا إلى التفكير في إعطاء نوع من الخدمات المتميزة الي العملاء التي تترك نجاحا مباشرا يمكن أن تنقش على نفسية الزبائن التي تقدم لهم خدمة نقل العفش.فلدينا ميل إلى أن يشار جيدا إلى العاملون والفنين والمغلفون ان يقوموا بعملهم في شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام نتيجة للمعيار والتنمية والعقل
    شركة نقل الاثاث بمكة
    مجموعة معينة لدينا في شركة نقل عفش بمكة تساعدنا في خدمتك في أي وقت من اليوم، وأنهم على استعداد للبقاء على طول هذه الخطوط لاعطاءك خدمة متميزة عن باقي شركات نقل اثاث بمكة التي توجد بهذه المنطقة فلا أحد لدينا في خدمات النقل يترك شيئا حتي لا نقع في قليلا من السخط.
    شركة تخزين الاثاث بالرياض
    التعبئة والتغليف يبدأ بالعمل المتميز من اجل الحصول علي شركة تخزين عفش بالرياض متميزة تمتلك مستودعات تخزين اثاث بالرياض تحافظ علي الممتلكات الخاصة بكم من الخراب. كما ان التعبئة والتغليف على استعداد فريد للتعامل مع كل نوع من الأدوات والأشياء الزجاجية والمواد التي تميل إلى الإضرار أو تحمل بانتظام أسوأ جزء في عملية الحركة. فخدمات شركة تخزين اثاث بالرياض تقوم بإرسال أفضل مجموعة يتقن الوصول إليها في الوقت المناسب لتلبية طلب العميل وفقا لمتطلبات محددة خاصة بك في هذا المجال بسبب الطريقة التي كانت لدينا مجموعة من الخبراء في كيفية ادارة مستودعات تخزين اثاث منذ فترة طويلة في هذه الصناعة لفترة طويلة جدا.
    شركة تخزين اثاث
    شركة تخزين عفش

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