Quince has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years. Some Biblical historians even suspect that Eve’s fruit of temptation might have been a quince rather than an apple.
In the United States, quince was found in home gardens throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, but apples were more common, probably due to quince’s rather tart flavor. Quince has now faded in popularity to the point that many people probably don’t even know what one looks like anymore.
Quince is high in natural pectin and makes fantastic jelly. It has a delicious, sweet smell, reminiscent of honey. A couple of quinces can also liven up the taste of apple pie.
Look for quinces in ethnic grocery stores or, if you are lucky, in your own yard. Our backyard (ornamental) quince tree produced a few (very small) quinces this year, which I harvested just ahead of the squirrels. I added them to a favorite apple pie recipe to come up with this for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner:
Apple Quince Pie
1 (10-inch) pie shell
6 1/2 cups thinly sliced, peeled, cored apples
1/2 cup sliced, peeled, cored quinces
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons white flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup white flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 400 F.
In large bowl, cover apples and quince with remaining pie ingredients and toss until fruit is evenly coated.
Spoon mixture into prepared pie shell.
In small bowl, mix topping ingredients until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle mixture over apple filling. Cover top loosely with aluminum foil.
Bake for 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool on a rack before trying to cut.