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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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  1. Pat, all of the flowering quinces produce edible fruit and can be used to make jelly.

  2. I have a quince of unknown type in my garden. It produces flowers but only a few fruits, which I would love to use. Do you know if you can you use any type of ornamental quince for the jelly?

  3. I’ve never actually tried leaving the seeds in when making the raw quince syrup, so you could do one batch with seeds and one without and then compare. If the seeds don’t impact the flavor negatively then it will save you alot of work in the future.

  4. Hi Jon, I’ve read that Cydonia oblonga needs to be planted against a south facing wall once you get up to yorkshire, which is 53-54° north in latitude. The southern coast of Sweden is 55° north, so it might crop ok so long as you’re in southern Sweden and you plant againt a south facing wall that gets plenty of direct sun on sunny days. The wall will retain the heat and release it during the night to keep the plant warm. By training the tree against the wall in an espalier style, you’ll increase the surface area that receives the warmth. A heavy mulch would also help to keep the heat in the soil.

    Studies were done on all of the Chaenomeles (flowering quince) and it was found that Chaenomeles japonica was the most reliable cropper in the far north. Ofcourse, all of the Chaenomeles are loosely known as japonicas but only one is the true Chaenomeles japonica. They might be fiddly but they’re the most reliable and their flavor is excellent. I think it might just be that you picked so many.

  5. Thanks for the good idea Jim.

    I´ll give that a go after the Crabapple and rowanberry jelly (Hugh F-W´s) which is this weekends project. Gonna have to cheat with the bletting this year and stick them in the freezer. No frosts over here yet and for Sweden thats odd.

    These Japonicas are great for jellys etc but really fiddly. I´m seriously considering sticking a real cydonia oblonga in.

    Thanks again


  6. You can make a great tasting Japanese quince syrup, which captures the fragrance of the fresh fruit. Simply cut the quinces into thin slices, remove the seeds and place the slices into a bowl. Add the same amount in sugar, by weight and leave covered in the fridge for a day or two. The juices are drawn out of the quince through osmosis and combine with the sugar to make a syrup.

    After a day or two, the quince should have shriveled up and it can be strained off. If the syrup is still too tart for your taste then you can add more sugar and a little water to help it dissolve. Then pour it into clean, glass jars or bottles and store it in the fridge or freezer. It’s great poured over desserts, mixed with vodka or used as a cordial.

  7. Thanks for the Ideas.

    I have a small Japonica in my garden but we had to move it and it still hasn´t recovered. On my travels round the neighborhood I found a HUGE bed of Japonicas growing wild outside some low-rise. I´ve taken 15 kilos and haven´t made much of a dent.

    Your Jelly was great.Thanks and I´ve just cooked up another batch for the pulp to make my first ever membrillo. It worked! looks just like the stuff I usually have to import a la Ryanair from Spain!

    I´m overloaded with Quince Jelly so I wondered if I could freeze in the juice from the second batch and either makess ome more next year or use it to have a go at that Deliaesque Marmalade when the naranjas make their way here from Spain

    Any thoughts?

    Great website by the way. Seem to come back here again and again.

    Also Rowanberries, any good recipes


  8. Very useful post. I’ve just purloined a small colander full of ornamental quinces and was wondering what to do with them.

    Just one point. The link to the recipe for quince marmalade took me to a page of advertising for Nescafe! Also if you hover over the link it loads a Nescafe video. How odd.

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Julia

    I agree with you. Our tree died a couple of years ago and rather than replace it I’ve ordered a Chinese chaenomeles that bears giant fruit ans will grow in part shade.

  10. I find that Chaenomeles – the japonica quince -makes a better tasting, sharper, more fragrant jelly than the usual larger quince fruit found off trees. They are also easier to find! Go down any suburban road in London and you’ll usually find a japonica bush somewhere, with hidden golden fruit deep in the thorny undergrowth.

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