Quinces And The Ways In Which They Can Be A Part Of Our Diet - Fruits In Winter (Part-2)
Quinces, the relatives to pear and apple
What Is Quince
Quince is the yellow-colored fuzzy cousin of pear and apple, that has flesh which is too hard, astringent, and sour to eat.
It is mostly used after cooking when it imparts a strong, fruity aroma to the recipe in which it is added.
It is the sole member of the genus Cydonia in the family Rosaceae.
It is a small deciduous tree that bears a fruit similar in appearance to a pear, and is bright golden-yellow, when mature. The tree grows 5-8 meters high, bears attractive pink flowers, and has ornamental qualities.
It is native to the slopes and woodland margins of South-West Asia. The immature fruit is green, which gradually matures in late autumn, to change its color to yellow, with hard and strongly perfumed flesh.
The leaves are alternately arranged, single, 2-4 inches long, with an entire margin, and densely pubescent fine white hair. The flowers produced in spring after the leaves are white or pink in color.
Quince has been known since ancient times, and according to many- has been the fruit instead of the apple for eve, in the famous Garden of Eden; and also a part of the Song of Solomon. Ancient Greeks had a ritual of offering quince at weddings.
It is resistant to frost and requires cold period below 7 degrees Celsius to flower properly.
Culinary Uses Of The Quince
Most varieties are extremely hard, acidic, and have a tart taste that makes them unpleasant to eat.
They have a high fiber content and enough pectin, a natural gelling substance, that they can be used to make jams, jellies, and Quince pudding or they may be peeled, then roasted, baked, and stewed.
The fruit is hardly ever consumed raw, yet utilized in cooking, where a tiny wedge imparts the entire recipe an enjoyable fruity fragrance.
The pectin levels diminish as the fruit ripens. The flesh of this fruit turns deep purple to red after long cooking time. They are used to enhance the flavor of desserts. Adding a dried Quince to Applesauce will enhance its taste, with the chunks being relatively firm and sour to taste.
Exchanging one-thirds of apples in an apple pie with quince slices will add a little bit tart taste, and enhance the flavor.
The term marmalade, originally meaning quince jam, derives from "marmelo", the Portuguese word for this fruit.
It can also be used to make a type of wine. These are usually sweet dessert wines with a high alcohol content, high in acidity and maleic acid.
Quince jelly is used as a complement to meat and cheese and makes it easier to digest the proteins present.
To pick the fruit from market stands:
Look for firm yellow fruit, and avoid the ones that are too soft or have spots of mold. Quinces bruise easily, but this does not affect their quality or taste.
To store the fruit:
Store them in a plastic bag in a refrigerator for several weeks. Peel before use.
Quince is used to make jams
Health Benefits Of Quince
The quince fruit weighs about 250-750 gms or more in some varieties. Inside, its flesh is light yellow, gritty, and has multiple seeds concentrated in the center, as in apples.
It is low in calorie counts, with 100 gms of fresh raw fruit providing 57 calories. It is a storehouse of dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, phytonutrients, and polyphenol antioxidants.
The gritty granules in its pulp are composed of astringent compounds called tannins, catechins, and epicatechin. They are natural detoxifying agents that bind to the.carcinogens (cancer-causing chemicals) in the colon to protect the inner lining of intestines from inflammatory bowel disease, cancer, and diverticulitis.
This fruit helps reduce body weight and blood LDL cholesterol.
The ripe fruit is high in vitamin-C or ascorbic acid content. Every 100 gms provides 15 mg or 25% RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of vitamin-C.Including quince in your diet will help boost immunity, reduce episodes of viral infections, reduce inflammation; and vitamin-C being a powerful antioxidant, removes harmful free radicals from the body and slows the aging process.
It is also a good source of B-complex vitamins, such as thiamine (B1), riboflavin(B2), and pyridoxine (B6); and minerals such as copper, iron, potassium, and magnesium.
The various beneficial effects of this fruit include the following:
- Prevents cancer formation.
- Supports weight loss.
- Improves digestion.
- Reduces blood cholesterol levels.
- Boosts body immunity.
- Prevents gastrointestinal diseases.
- Soothes inflammation.
- Improves skin health.
- Reduces blood pressure.
- Prevents allergies.
- Stimulates cardiovascular system and maintains a healthy heart.
Quince is also applied directly in the form of a compress or poultice for healing injuries, swollen and painful joints, and deeply cut fingers.
Quince extracts are also an ingredient of lotions to soothe the eyes.
Quince, the fruit, in a summary
There is no definitive evidence of side effects or risks associated with having quince. It is a great addition to any diet, but the raw fruit is extremely bitter and astringent, and seldom consumed uncooked.
The internal of a quince is whitened when raw, and prolonged cooking transforms it into a deep red. Tannins impart a nasty flavor, which gives a choking feeling when it is put in the mouth as such.
Cooking neutralizes these substances while maintaining the rich aroma of the fruit. It can be utilized to make stews, seafood, poultry, and lamb preparations as a flavoring base.
Quince seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide, so eating more than a few seeds could be troublesome.