Don’t wince, there is a fun Q food to learn about today: quince! Just like finding a good Q word when playing Scrabble, there aren’t many Q foods to chose from! We could have covered quinoa, which is a super healthy grain, but quince is a little known fruit in the US that is gaining popularity. So, while we are still walking through the ABCs of good things to eat, let’s learn about this fabulous fruit.
What’s a quince?
Not to be confused with the flowering ornamental shrub that has the same name, quince is a fruit tree that is related to both the apple and the pear tree. However, this tree needs a long, warm season. It is grows well mostly in California, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico in the US. But if you are visiting or live outside the US, then Turkey, Iran, and southwest Asia are locations where this tree thrives.
The tree is known for its beautiful pink flowers that turn into fuzzy “pre-fruit”. The fuzz will fall as the fruit matures and then ripens. Mature quince trees don’t get very tall (about 10-20 feet) and are considered a great ornamental tree.
Does quince really make you wince?
Talk about pucker power! If you eat this fruit too soon, it packs quite the astringent punch. Fully ripened fruit is the key. It should be very fragrant and soft. Many note the beautiful, tropical smell of ripe quince. In fact, back in the 18th and 19th centuries, quince was used in drawers to scent clothing.
How are they good for you?
These fruits contain lots of soluble fiber which is known for being beneficial to lowering cholesterol and help maintain healthy blood sugar levels which helps those with diabetes. The soluble fiber in quince is pectin. Pectin is the key ingredient used to make jams and jellies gel. Before pectin was widely available in grocery stores, quince was used in other fruit jam and jellies because of its high pectin content. More recent research in mice has shown that pectin can stop the spread of cancer cells and tumor growth (1).
Many individuals suffer from a condition called Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease (GERD). It’s where the acid from your stomach flows back into your esophagus. It causes a lot of discomfort and pain. Quince has been found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In a recent study, quince was found to markedly reduce symptoms associated with GERD when compared to a synthetic drug used to treat patients with GERD (2). It has been proven to be helpful also with those with ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome (3).
Because it contains many bioactive compounds, many other health benefits. It has been found to have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties (4). One quince has about 50 calories, 15 grams of carbs (2 of which are fiber). They have a fairly low sugar content for a fruit. Apples and pears contain about 50% sugar (naturally occurring) while a quince only contains about 10% sugar.
Where can you find it?
This fruit is harder to come by in the US. It is more prevalent in California and the southwestern US. You are more likely to find it at the local farmer’s market. But, thanks to the internet, you can buy it online. I just bought a package of dried quince off of Amazon. The dried slices can be eaten, used in tea or other drinks, or added as an ingredient to baked goods. Due to it’s increasing popularity, it is becoming more readily available.
Need some quick quince queues?
Quince is typically eaten cooked as that releases the sweeter flavor and reduces the tart notes. You can try raw quince and see if you wince from its tartness (make sure it is very soft and fragrant which tells you it is fully ripe)!
Or, try these other ways…
Try dried slices in hot or iced tea
Make homemade jelly or jam to put on toast
Use them as to replace apples or pears in recipes (try it in pies or muffins)
Try quince cheese (also called membrillo) which is quince and sugar cooked together for a long time. The mixture turns red and then gels upon cooling. It is typically served with Manchego cheese (a cheese made with sheep’s milk). Recipes are available online, or, Whole Foods or other health foods stores typically carry it.
Hope you enjoy healthy eating the rest of your week. R you ready for a good food next week?
 Biomed Pharmacother. 2016 Dec;84:637-644. Apple pectin: A natural source for cancer suppression in 4T1 breast cancer cells in vitro and express p53 in mouse bearing 4T1 cancer tumors, in vivo. Delphi L, Sepehri H.
 J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Feb;23(2):82-95. Medicinal Plants for Management of Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: A Review of Animal and Human Studies. Salehi M, Karegar-Borzi H, Karimi M, Rahimi R.
 Res Pharm Sci. 2012 Apr;7(2):103-10. A study of the effects of Cydonia oblonga Miller (Quince) on TNBS-induced ulcerative colitis in rats. Minaiyan M1, Ghannadi A, Etemad M, Mahzouni P.
 Front Pharmacol. 2016; 7: 163. Cydonia oblonga M., A Medicinal Plant Rich in Phytonutrients for Pharmaceuticals. Muhammad U. Ashraf, Gulzar Muhammad, Muhammad A. Hussain, and Syed N. A. Bukhari.