We are lucky enough to have an 8-year-old quince tree growing on our property. Today, quince fruits are a rare find in stores or even farmers markets, probably because you really cannot use quince fruits until you put work into them. Quince fruits were traditionally used in various dishes, mostly desserts, stews, jams, jellies and in alcoholic preserves.
Although most uses of this eccentric fruit have been ‘forgotten’, they were widely known in the past. There are typical Spanish, Persian, eastern-, northern, western European recipes and practices involving this fruit. I recently had a friend of mine come over, who spent most of her childhood in the Ukraine and Poland. When she saw the quince fruits lying there under the tree in our garden, she shrieked and started smelling one of the fruits. “I didn’t know you had these here! I haven’t seen quinces in 10 years!” I was of course flattered, so I gave her a jar of quince jelly, which she immediately knew she could put in her tea! I will mine her knowledge of recipes to share on this blog, and I will translate traditional Flemish recipes as well.
The trees grow steadily, almost no disease will touch them and every second year the tree will reliably give you a large harvest in September. I have never heard of anyone who pruned a productive quince tree into a fancy shape, like you can do with pears. They grow about 3m in height with a rounded top. The leaves on the drooping branches give the tree a beautiful cottagey vibe.
These greenish-yellow, big, ugly pear-like things can be kept in storage for a few months if you were to preserve them like you would an apple.
In short, the quince tree is perfect for the permaculture garden.