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Saturday, November 13, 2010
QUINCE FRUIT: QUINCE LEGENDS: QUINCE HEALTH BENEFITS, USES AND HISTORY: PICKLED QUINCES RECIPE
The quince seems to cause some confusion, so let me say here that we are writing about the quince which is a fruit, originating in the Caucasus region and Iran, where it still grows wild. Its Latin name was Pryus cydonia, but it is now known by the Latin name Cydonia vulgaris. There is a shrub called japonica or Japanese or flowering quince in English, but this is Chaemomeles speciosa in Latin and not to be confused.
Quinces look a little like pears but are hard and have a dry, sour, astringent taste when eaten raw. They are best cooked and known as ideal fruit for making jellies and marmalade. They have a high pectin content, especially the seeds, so ideal for these purposes. Quince jelly is a dark orange or brown colour and made in Greece and Portugal. They also make wonderful preserves of quince in these two countries. In Iran and the Middle East quinces are used with meat for example in the tagine dishes of Morocco they go well with lamb.
Scholars believe that quinces were in fact the “golden apples” which were the fruit of the Forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden and the ones that Atalanta found so enchanting in Virgil’s work. It is believed that Paris gave Aphrodite a quince and it is considered to be her fruit and that of her Roman counterpart, Venus. She is often depicted with one in her right hand. Some wall-paintings and mosaics in Pompeii have a bear holding a quince in its paw. Plutarch mentions quinces as being shared by a bride and groom in the bridal chamber, and the ancient Greeks threw them into bridal chariots. The bride would nibble on one to sweeten her breath before entering the bedroom. The best variety of the ancient world reputedly came from the Greek city of Cydonia which was on the north coast of Crete and is now Chania. Quinces are still cultivated in the area.
They became symbols of love and fertility in the Middle Ages when they were also served at wedding feasts.
Edward Lear the British nonsense rhyme poet lived for years in Greece and perhaps that’s why in his rhyme “The Owl and the Pussy Cat” the unlikely honeymooners “dined on mince and slices of quince.” Peter Quince was one of the rustics in Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, so quinces were known in Britain in the 17th century.
You can actually eat some quinces raw, but if you do you should sprinkle them with lemon juice as the react badly to the air just like avocados and go brown quickly.
They are filled with vitamin C and antioxidants so they help the body absorb calcium and iron and fight free radicals which damage the cells and also help protect against some cancers. They contain the minerals calcium, iron, copper, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, and the B-complex vitamins, niacin (B3), vitamin B6, and Folate (B9).The syrup made from the fruit is useful for diarrhea, and a decoction of the seeds is used in traditional medicine to help in cases of dysentery, and gonorrhea. It is thought that they may have potent anti-viral properties and be beneficial for gastric ulcers. The juice is a tonic, antiseptic astringent and diuretic. It aids digestion and lowers cholesterol if you eat quinces and drink the juice regularly. The potassium contained in them helps to regulate high blood pressure. The antioxidants help control your stress levels and the fruit is good for anaemia sufferers, and for asthma and cardiovascular disease. In Peru quinces are given to people suffering from altitude sickness and vomiting.
3 medium-sized quinces,
750 ml cider vinegar
400 gr sugar
8-10 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf torn
Pour the vinegar into a stainless steel pan with the sugar, juniper berries, black peppercorns and bay leaf, and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and let it simmer while you peel core and halve the quinces. Cut them into 5 pieces lengthways and then lower them carefully into the pan. Cook for 20 – 25 mins or until the quince pieces can be easily pierced with a skewer.
Remove the pan from the heat, lift out the pieces of fruit and put them into clean storage jars. Cover them with the liquid, seal and allow to cool.
This has Taste and is a Treat.