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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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22 Comments

  1. I was shown how to make jelly from Japonica quinces by my mother-in-law. More recently, I discovered that you could make “cheeses” from the fruit pulp after jelly making. I was pleased with myself for making a quince cheese, only to see the Spanish had developed it into an art form and called it membrillo. We tasted it in a lovely Tapas bar in Barcelona as part of a salad with a local cheese, rocket and balsamic vinegar.

    • Any chance I could have the recipe for the cheese that you make having strained the juice from the pulp for jelly. Thrilled to find you mention this as there’s still so much and I don’t want to waste it all.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Sharon

    The Membrillo, cheese, rocket and balsamic combination sounds delicious.

    I’m going to try making apple cheese this year as the Membrillo went doen so well last year.

    Also I’d love to have a go at fruit leathers. Just the thing for that low point in the afternoon that has me longing for Mars Bars.

  3. It was through your Quince Cheese recipe that I discovered blogs. (That salad does sounds heavenly.)

    Now I’m looking forward to the fruit leathers. What a great idea.

  4. kate (uk)

    Just waiting for my japonica fruits to ripen- rather slow , need more sun please! The plant root is in my neighbour’s garden, but it has poked itself through the fence does most of its growing in my garden. We share a taste for tart jams and jellies so I make japonica and lemon jelly and split it 50/50 between us. She is so keen on it that she has checked all her friends’ gardens for more japonicas and has commandeered any fruits!

  5. X-ray Rocks!

    Mmmm I love membrillo!
    Sadly, my quince has yet to produce a single fruit.

  6. I have an ornamental quince shrub which has been in my garden for several years now (origin unknown). This year it has produced a lot of lovely little fruit, about the size of an apricot, with a lovely yellow colour. I have never used these before and am wondering whether the ornamental variety is edible and when the best time to harvest the fruit would be?

  7. kate (uk)

    Edible in jellies, too tart for just eating! Even when ripe they are quite hard to cut.Harvest any time now- if a frost is predicted in your area, pick them before they get frosted, otherwise let the sun get to them over the next couple of weeks to sweeten them.

  8. To my delight I’ve just discovered a wild ornamental quince growing near me. I cooked the fruit using your Belgian pears recipe, absolutely fab, highly recommended.

  9. 1 have 3 pots of amber jelly gleaming on the shelf from the little fruits of my ornamental quince – thanks for the recipe. Can i eat it straight away or does it need to mature like chutney – i have pork roasting that i think it will be lovely with.

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Casalba

    Fruit leathers are great!! They make fun presents too.

    Hi Kate(uk)

    Ours are ripening slowly on the windowsill. Quince jelly is my tip top favourite and I’m so pleased that I discovered my large haul this year.

    I’m also going to try quince vodka. Sounds like a winning combination especially as Magimix will help with the grating!

    Hello X-ray rocks

    Love Membrillo too. We have one jar left from last year must remeber to cut a wedge for my lunch box!

    Hi Sara

    Harvest them now. We have this variety growing sparsely on a bush in our dry front garden. Like yours they are the size of an apricot and don’t have the blush of the ones from the bushes in the deluxe flats. But they all taste the same – delicious when cooked.

    Hello Kate(uk)

    Thanks for your help!

    Hello Tracey

    That is wonderful news – finding the quinces and equally good that they work using the Belgian Pear recipe. The BPs keep for at least a year so this is good news. Our freezer is choc a bloc ATM.

    Hi Rachel

    All jelly, jam and marmalade can be eaten immediately. Only pickles and chutney need time to mature.

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