Quince: Your Favorite Fall Fruit You’ve Never Heard Of ~ recipes, histories + map making

“Make sure you cook it.”

Aside from it being something like an apple and something like a pear, that’s all I’d heard about quince.

Still, I had one on my counter and I needed to eat it before it went bad…just like all the other veggies in my fridge. So began tonight’s dinner roulette (which I TOTALLY WON).

Lucky for you, I like to share.

Quince, meet You. You, meet your new favorite fall fruit.

First, the recipes. Second, the histories.

Sweet Quince Salad

I’m terrible with names. Will take suggestions.

  • Set 2 golden beets to boil.** When al dente, remove (drain) and peel.
  • Cook 1 onion, sliced for caramelizing, with butter and salt of choice.
  • After 5-10 minutes, add 1 quince, nearly though not fully ripened, quartered and sliced.
  • After another 5-10 minutes, beets should be ready to slice and add.
  • If you happen to have some green onions lying around, throw in some sliced greens for color and a subtle layer of flavor.
  • Add a dash of framboise vinegar (conveniently stocked by Woodsmen Market). (This was my choice after thinking a Champagne Vinegar would do well and seeing I was out.) If you haven’t already seasoned to taste, now’s the time. Remove from heat and enjoy!

** At the time I boiled the beets, I added green beens for my savory dish. Much to my surprise and delighted palette, the beans were perfectly (and naturally) sweetened. Added to my cooking mixture of chanterelles, quartered and fresh-from-the-garden cherry tomatoes, garlic, dill, green onion & sausage they made for a nice green bean casserole alternative.

City of Quinces

Shortly after moving to Portland from Nebraska, my aunt from Seattle came to visit me and when we went for a walk, she changed my life forever. She pointed at all the food I could eat that was just growing wild in people’s yards, between the sidewalk and the street and the general ‘wilderness’ of the city. I was hooked on foraging ever since. I even grew to like roses for the citrus blast I could get from their hypanthium (rose hips), which is especially convenient considering their abundance in this City of Roses.

Speaking of, did you know that quinces are in the rose family? (So are apples, pears, cherries and loquats.) Be warned: the previous link includes fascinating tales of fruit in the bible and other history. Apple’s generic name is derived from the Latin word for “bad” referring to the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden; however, some scholars think it was the fig and others think it was the apricot due to how far back those fruits date.

Quince, like pears, have stone cells which are responsible for their gritty texture (think of an amazing, gritty white cheddar). Since a dear friend of mine is drowning under a pear tree, I plan on cooking with some underripe pears to try out my theory that anything a quince can do, a pear can do (though not better).

I have a feeling that like persimmons, quinces will suddenly jump out at me on my walks and other adventures through the city now that I know of their existence. And once I find a quince tree with fruit for the foraging, I will make annual visits for bounty as I do for persimmons, pears, peaches, plums, figs and cherries (to name a few).**

Yes, part of the appeal of quince is that I’ve never seen it in a store. So it can retain a sense and flavor of the wild without having nutrition sacrificed for its looks in the aisles. Unlike persimmons, it needs to be harvested before the first frost, though needs a cold spell to produce. Combine that with being self-pollinating and the quince is a great fruit tree option for our Pacific Northwest climate. (1-0 quince-pear)

So now that we’ll be growing quince trees, some inspirational recipes, blogs and restaurants:

** No, I don’t take fruit from yards where the fruit is being harvested by the land and home owners.

What Next?

I clearly need to resurrect UrbanEdibles. Only last weekend did I learn about GeoJSON (at Wherecamp) and the wonder that is community map making.

I must also find a way to contribute to and expand the UrbanForestMap.


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