Quince: The Golden Apple of Ancient Greece


In our orchard, there is one kind of tree that has weathered the difficult growing year of 2016 better than any almost any other. This fall we will harvest a bounty of quince fruit from our older trees. Our oldest trees are are mere 6 years old but each are loaded with over 20 lbs of fruit! 
Qunice (Cydonia oblonga) are related to apples and pears, where at one time widely grown in New England. The trees blossom late in the spring after the threat of frost has passed. In the spring, we appreciate the trees for their delicate downy foliage and large, apple-like blossoms. The apple or pear shaped fruit is somewhat squat in appearance, homely best describes it humble aspect. Added to this, is it usually an astringent taste when eaten fresh, so it is easy to see why quince cultivation has fallen out of favor in the United States. 
In the past, quince had a spot in many homestead orchards. The fruit are high in pectin, and act as a thickener when combined with other fruit in baked goods or preserves. The word marmalade is derived from the Potuguese marmelo or quince. In Turkey, central Asia and Iran quince are used for the identical purpose. We're planning on trying this recipe for Persian quince jam this year.
Rakia, the fruit brandy of the Balkans is sometimes made with Quince. You don't have to travel to the mountains of Serbia to taste this exotic elixir, here is recipe for infusing quince brandy at home. 

Quince are native to south western Asia, Turkey and Iran and have a long cultivation history in Europe and the United States. They were wildly cultivated in ancient Greece. The name of the botanical genus to which quince belong, Cydonia, come from Kydonia, the name of a Greek city state on the Island of Crete.

The main pomological protagonist in the story of the Golden Apple of Discord in Greek mythology is thought to have been a quince. In this story (depicted above in the Golden Apple of Discord by Jakob Jordaens, 1633) Eris, the goddess of strife, tossed a 'golden apple' in the midst of the feast of the gods at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis as a prize of beauty, thus sparking a vanity-fueled dispute among HeraAthena, and Aphrodite that eventually led to the Trojan War.

Quince are easy to grow, virtually pest and disease free! Mature trees reach only 12-15' tall. See our current selection here.