The quince came to Britain from Central Asia. It was a favourite fruit of the ancient Greeks and Romans, although it is not recorded in Britain until the eleventh century. Popularity grew throughout medieval times, and the famous sixteenth century herbalist writes about it in his famous Herbal, a book he wrote in 1597, which became the most widely read book on botany in the English language. In it he gives a recipe for quince marmalade and adds that quinces are also used to make jellies and sweetmeats. He talks about the ancient method of preserving quinces in honey, which produced a liquid called melomeli that could be given to those suffering from fever. The strongly fragrant quinces make excellent jelly and add extra flavour to stewed apples or pears, or to apple pies. When stored the fruit will scent a room with its fragrance; quinces were once used by travellers in the east to perfume their tents, and have been stored with household linen.
In the famous children's poem, The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear (1871), "they dined on mince and slices of quince..."
The Greek historian Plutarch reported that a Greek bride would nibble a quince to perfume her kiss before entering the bridal chamber, "in order that the first greeting may not be disagreeable nor unpleasant" (Roman Questions 3.65).
Although the book of Genesis does not name the specific type of the fruit that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden, some ancient texts suggest Eve's fruit of temptation might have been a quince.
The trees prefer a slightly moist site, have a good shape and display attractive, large, lightly scented flowers in Spring. The fruit ripens in autumn. Trees are grafted onto Quince stocks and any suckers or bottom growth will look very much like the Quince variety above it. It is important to remove any rootstock growths to keep the true variety vigorous and distinct. They are self fertile.
Latin name: Cydonia oblonga, Vranja
Uses: jam, sauce
Flavour: spiced apple
Fruit colour: green turning to yellow with a grey down
Flowering time: Mid May
Picking time: late September
Eating/storing time: several months
Tree vigour: 5 to 8 metres
Rootstock: Quince A
Year planted: 2001