The quince: a forgotten fruit

Until the 1960s there was no farm, farm or vegetable garden that did not include the quince tree among the fruit trees. Today, this is no longer the case, on the contrary it is increasingly rare to be able to see the bright yellow color of its fruits in the autumn, in the countryside. In fact, this variety has been supplanted by other trees that produce sweeter fruits on the palate: apple and pear varieties. For this reason it is a plant species not cultivated for the large-scale distribution chain: throughout Italy it is estimated that the production of quince amounts to just 600 tons. In fact, the raw fruit is very sour and astringent, however, once cooked it develops a pleasant and intense aroma and taste, therefore it is one of the plants that has been cultivated for the longest time by man and in fact regional recipes abound. sweets and even ciders that are based on this ingredient. Source:

Antiquity: the legendary origins

As we have said, the quince is one of the fruit trees that has been cultivated by man for the longest time. Originally from the Caucasus, it was cultivated in Babylon and Crete more than 4000 years ago; in fact it takes its Latin name, Cydonia Oblonga, from a small town on the island of Crete: Cedonia. By the Greeks it was considered a sacred fruit to Aphrodite and a symbol of fertility. During the wedding celebrations the spouses ate in large quantities to propitiate a large offspring. Curiosity: this custom was imposed as a law in Athens under the rule of Solon. Even the Romans greatly appreciated this fruit; they used it as a deodorant, breath freshener and perfume. Until the sixties in the country houses,

Properties of the tree and fruit

The quince is part of the large rosaceae family, a family that includes the apple, cherry, apricot and many other fruit trees. Depending on the shape of the fruit produced, spherical or oblong, the tree is referred to as, respectively, apple or pear quince. It is a tree that tolerates harsh winters and summer drought very well, therefore its distribution range is very extensive, and due to its robustness it is often used as a grafting tree for more delicate varieties such as pear and apple trees. At the end of its growth it is a small tree, between five and eight meters high, it blooms in spring with white-pink flowers. The fruit is covered by a thick down that serves to protect it from parasites, hair that loses when it reaches full maturity. The very consistency of the pulp, very hard and woody, discourages insects from eating it. The fruit is rich in pectins, vitamins (A, C, B1, B2) and mineral salts such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus. The sugar chains are particularly long, which is why the taste is not very sweet and slightly acrid. Source:

Quince: Jam, quince and … anti-wrinkle.

The pectin richness of the fruit makes it ideal for the preparation of jams and preserves. It can be used as a natural thickener for their preparation. It is no coincidence that the word jam derives from the Portuguese term ‘marmelo’ which is the name of the quince in the Lusitanian language. The spread and the long history of this tree have meant that numerous regional recipes use quince as a basic ingredient. Quince is probably the best known recipe, typical of the Lodi area and the eastern part of Sicily: it is a compact dessert made from quinces, water and sugar. Important phytotherapeutic and cosmetic qualities are recognized in this plant. The shell of the seeds has a soothing action and fights dehydration and the appearance of wrinkles.

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