The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Ornamental quince, Chaenomeles or Japonica quince recipes

Japonica quincesEvery one loves the look of a quince from a tree. The large size, the slight fuzziness on the skin. The smell of a bowl of quinces can scent a room if they are allowed to ripen. A quince plucked from a tree can keep for months properly stored but windfalls need to be used pretty quickly.

We were given a quince tree a few years ago. This summer it hasn’t been happy – losing a lot of leaves during July and generally looking peaky. I gave it lots of extra water and it rallied a bit but the quinces are scant and undersized. So the prospect of preserves was suddenly doll sized.

Last week I was restoring some garden furniture for a charming lady and a very gentle Dalmatian dog who live in a swish new block of flats at the bottom of Newmarket Heath. I enjoyed a day or so outside in the September sun. I was also hugely entertained by a tame squirrel that feasted on her bird table along with a robin and a crow. This motley crew distracted me as they politely took turns to feed.  It was only on the last day that I spotted the bird feeders stood in a border filled with small japonica bushes. On closer examination, the branches of these bushes were laden with plump fruit.

I scuttled indoors to announce the discovery of rich bounty.
”Ah, yes. They rotted on the ground last year. The entire crop. I used to make a wonderful quince marmalade when I was on the farm.”
“Is that the one that you mix with Seville oranges?”
“Yes, I can give you the recipe.”
A large drawer rolled open and she searched in vain for the book. Eventually she passed me a capacious bag.
“Take all the fruit, no one is interested in preserving these days.”

“Have you ever tried Membrillo?”
She shook her head.
So we struck a deal. I’d harvest the fruit and return with jelly and Membrillo. You can’t beat really fresh quince jelly melting on a wedge of pork or lamb.

I will be turning the fruit of the Ornamental quince into jelly, Membrillo  and marmalade. They taste the just the same as the fruit from a quince tree, they are just a different variety. Smaller and green with a reddish blush. Quinces are also divine baked slowly in low oven and added to stewed apples for that extra zing.


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23 Comments

  1. Michelle Nader

    I’m way late to this discussion, but so glad to have found it. I’ve had two different ornamental quince bushes for 20 years, and always threw the fruit away because I assumed ornamental meant inedible. I was looking it up to see if chickens could eat it, and found this! Too late for this year, I threw them away, but I’ll definitely try these suggestions next year.

  2. Jim, that is great, thank you for your advice, membrillo to be made soon!!

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