Saturday, September 22, 2007

Beautiful flowers, fragrant fruit: Chaenomeles or flowering quince

Most of you are familiar with quinces (Cydonia oblonga), the ancient fruit used to make the Spanish membrillo paste that's wonderful with cheese (for fantastic quince posts see here, here, and again here). But how many of you know that the flowering quince (Chaenomeles Lindl) - related, but by no means the same fruit - is also edible?

Not many, I suspect. Known as the Nordic lemon because of their high Vitamin C content, they also contain a lot of pectin as well as citric and malic acid, which makes them excellent for jam-making or canning. Above you can see fruit still attached - and picked - from my mum's very beautiful flowering quince bush. They're popular in Estonia, as flowering quinces are very ornamental - and they yield some useful fruit as well! The seeds - and there's up to 100 per fruit! - of flowering quince should not be eaten as they're high on amygdalin that some people react to. However, as there's twice as much vitamin C in the peel as there's in the flesh of the fruit, then it's best to leave flowering quinces unpeeled.

Flowering quince extract
My mum's recipe

The easiest way for using is to cut the deseeded fruit into small slices and mix with equal amount of sugar. The jars filled with this mixture should be kept in a cool storage for a few weeks, until sugar has dissolved (you need to shake the jar every now and then for best result). The resulting flowering quince extract should be kept in the fridge, and can be used to sweeten and flavour tea, or just hot water - it has a lovely and a bit lemony taste. (Or, if you prefer, you can use honey instead of sugar for making this extract). This is my mum's preferred way of preserving and using flowering quinces..

However, being into jamming and canning as I am, I made jam with my flowering quinces. I made two different versions - one sweet (as prescribed in the book), one less so (as to our preference). Both were lovely on their own. The high pectin levels help to turn this jam into a nice think almost marmelade-like concoction that will be tasting of early autumn when spread on a slice of toast during the soon-to-arrive dark and cold Estonian winter..

Apple & Flowering Quince Jam
Adapted from Hilda Ottenson "Hoidised" (1977) and Loreida Eisen, Toivo Niiberg & Karl Veber "Ebaküdoonia aias ja köögis" (1999)

1 kg apples
0.5 kg flowering quinces
200 ml water
0.75-1.3 kg caster sugar

Wash and core the apples and cut into chunks (no need to peel the apples, if you're using organic/non-sprayed fruit). Cut flowering quinces into small slices, remove the seeds. (I weighed my fruit after this preparatory stage).
Put the quinces, sugar and water into a large saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the fruit appears to have softened and the sugar has dissolved into a syrup, then add apples and bring to the boil again.
Simmer for 10-20 minutes, until apples have softened, and you've got a nice, thick jam (it will thicken as it cools down, so you don't want it to be too thick at this point).
Cool just a little, then pour into sterilised cans and close.
Keep in a cool and dark storage for best results.

WHB: This is also my entry to the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Myriam of Once Upon A Tart. Click on the logo below for more information about this established foodblogging event.


Anonymous said...

Which book are you referring to?

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Once again I've learned something wonderful from you -- I've never heard of quince extract, nor would I have any idea of how to use it. Thanks, Pille.

Kevin Kossowan said...

I love anything that involves cooked fruits. Nice photo collage!

Andreea said...

i absolutely love quinches. both in savory and sweet dishes. you can not find them too often here though

lobstersquad said...

never hear of them in my life. they sound more interesting than membrillos, though they´re not so bad. I´m longing to have a basket of them perfuming the house, but that´s a long way off yet. it´s still so hot!

Shaun said...

Pille - The Spring rain and dark skies here in New Zealand make me yearn for this, though it is not the season. I don't even know that we have this particular quince anyway. Your jam looks soul-warming and beautifully textured, perfect on slices of pain de compagne. Thank you also for referring to those other quince posts; they're very interesting, being the lover of quince that I am...

Katie Zeller said...

THAT's what that fruit it...I've seen it growing and thought it was so weird, growing right out the the branches. Very interesting looking... and your jelly looks wonderful!

Anonymous said...

those are beautiful quince...I love the fact some are called 'Nordic Lemons.

Michèle said...

Pille, the jam looks lovely and your pictures are so pretty!

Anonymous said...

Lovely jam Pille! I have had membrillo but never quince, and never this new fruit that you have just introduced to me :)

Speaking of jam...guess what I found! Rhubarb! It was in a specialty deli and I am sure it isn't "young" but I am going to make Moominmama's jam! I'm so excited!!! :)

Kalyn Denny said...

Lovely photos. I've never tasted quince but I've been wanting to try it since I started hearing about it. The jam sounds great!

Pille said...

Pene - you'd find recipes for preserving flowering quince in a number of Estonian recipe books, as well as on my Estonian language recipe site. I've added two references for you.

Lydia - well, our favourite way for using flowering quince extract is to add a spoonful or two into tea. Sweetens and brightens it:)

Kevin - thank you!

Andreea - quinces should be easier to come across than flowering quinces, as not many people know you can use the fruit of the latter in cooking.

Ximena - as much as we like flowering quince, we'll be also cooking with quinces when they come available again. Our membrillo-making efforts last year failed miserably, so we have to try again this year..

Shaun -you're welcome!

Katie - I hope you'll try cooking with flowering quince next time you come across it!

David - thanks for popping by! Have you ever seen flowering quinces in Paris (remember, it's NOT the same as a quince which is flowering, but a different fruit altogether:) I'd be keen to know of any French uses for this fruit..

Michele - thank you! The jam is wonderful indeed!

Joey - so excited for your rhubarb find! I haven't had any since early June, so you're in a better situation than I am:)

Kalyn - again, note that 'quince' and 'flowering quince' are two totally different fruits - confusing, I know:) They're both too tart to be eaten uncooked, however (as K. learnt the hard way:)

Raccoon said...

A fellow singer in my chorus just brought in some quinces to rehearsal this last week... she had no idea what they were.

I've only ever stewed them to have as a desert. It's nice to see some other options.

Also: it's nice to see you peppering your posts with Estonian - I've sung in Finnish and Estonian, and I get a kick out of being able to read and pronounce the Estonian words for everything.

Kirsty said...

hah! I came across your post whilst adding my photos for my own flowering quince jam to the Flickr jam group.
Yours seems very different from mine- my quinces (which I've always known as "japonicas") start out much yellower (I pick them in October/November, so they're probably just riper), and I do the whole tree at once (this year 6kg!!).
I cut the fruit into 8ths and boil it up in 2 litres of water for every kilo of fruit, then push it though a sieve. I reserve the water which I boil down to a syrupy juice and add to the pulp. I add an equal weight of sugar to the pulp/juice mix, and boil it until setting point (I use the wrinkle test).
I've blogged it with pictures here:

Mine comes out sharp and sweet, like marmalade. It's excellent on toast or served with cold meats. How interesting to see yours!

Clare said...

Thank you! I just found these in the backyard and didn't know if we could eat them, but they smelled so good and reminded me of 'ordinary' quinces (which I love!), so I am glad to see your recipes! Interestingly, my mum has had a 'japonica' in Tasmania for about 30 years, and it has never fruited, but it looks like they fruit here in the U.K. I only found 3 fruit, so not really enough to do much experimenting, but we can have a little taste. I am really looking forward to exploring more of your blog! Thanks.

Anonymous said...


Great post and I like it.

Term papers said...

Great Post. I like it. and I Love to see the pics of Beautiful flowers, fragrant fruit: Chaenomeles or flowering quince. it's really interesting and quite informative for readers..

Irene said...

Well, thank you for that :)
I've had my Chaenomeles for a few years, but the fruits disappeared (probably in the stomachs of squirrels). Today I picked for the first time about 1 kg of mini quinces, and I'm going to use one of your recipes to make marmelade, and the seeds I will use in other marmalade as pectin.
Irene, Canada