Everything You Need to Know About Chinese Quince

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The Chinese quince (Pseudocydonia sinensis) is a highly tart, astringent fruit that comes from a deciduous tree belonging to the Rosaceae family. It’s used as an ornamental plant and for its edible fruit.

What is a Chinese Quince?

The Chinese quince is a cydonia tree native to China, and its astringent quince fruit is used for medicinal purposes and decoration. It’s pronounced as “kwins.” It’s also known as chaenomeles and is related to the European quince (Cydonia oblonga). Japan also has a similar plant, but it’s called “japonica” or “Japanese quince.”

In China, the fruit and the tree are called mugua. In Korea, the tree is mogwa-namu, and its fruit is just mogwa. In Japan, both fruit and tree are called karin and are typically grown in bonsai.

The Chinese quince fruit comes from China and the Middle East, where it has a long history. This yellow fruit might have even been ‘The Fruit of Temptation’ in the Garden of Eden.

The plants are typically 35-60 foot tall trees with dense crowns and flowers with around five or six pink petals. The tree will normally bloom in the spring, and the pome fruit releases a sweet, intense smell when it ripens in autumn.

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Always be sure to remove a Chinese quince’s seeds before eating.

What Does a Chinese Quince Taste Like?

When eaten raw, Chinese quinces have a slightly sour and bitter taste that is best when added to other dishes, made into jellies, jams, tarts, or cakes since it becomes sweeter and more intense.

Most people agree that they taste similar to an apple and a pear, although they don’t have much taste when eaten raw.

How to Tell When Chinese Quince is Ripe

When a Chinese Quince is ripe, its color is golden, and it releases a highly aromatic smell. If you want to develop their taste even more, leave them on the tree since there’s no danger of frost causing serious damage to the fruit.

If you pick a quince that isn’t exactly ripe, you can leave it to ripen on its own, which will take two to six weeks. The fruit bruises easily, so be careful when you pick one. Avoid bruised, mushy, damaged fruits that smell slightly off since Chinese quinces should smell pleasant.

What’s the Difference Between Chinese Quince and Western Quince?

The Chinese quince is often overlooked for its western variations; however, their trees, shapes, smells, and tastes are very similar. Some differences between them are the lack of thorns on the Chinese quince and that the flowers are produced individually, not in clusters, like the Western quince.

It is closely related to the European Quince genus Cydonia, but another difference is the serrated leaves. The Western quince is also grown and used as an ornamental tree in southern Europe.

Can I Eat Raw Chinese Quince?

While edible, quinces are rarely eaten in their raw form since they taste slightly bitter and sour. Although this fruit looks and tastes similar to a pear, nearly everyone cooks them or adds them to jams, cider, and many other dishes.

When raw, its texture is hard, but it becomes much softer and mushy after being cooked. The general opinion is that these fruits taste better when cooked.

Cooking with Chinese Quince

The easiest way to prep quinces is to simply cut them in half and peel the skin off, but it’s recommended to leave it on because it adds to the flavor. After cutting them up, add them to a bowl of water to stop them from going dark on the inside.

As mentioned, Chinese quince can be eaten raw, but they taste better and sweeter when cooked. They’re typically baked, sauteed, boiled, or made into jam.

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Chinese quince add highly aromatic tart and floral flavors to tea.

Here are a few fantastic recipes that incorporate Chinese quince!

Membrillo (Quince Paste): This is a typical Spanish dish that is often eaten with cheese. It’s a sweet, honey-like paste.

Korean Quince Tea: In this recipe, you combine Chinese quince, lemons, ginger, and honey to make a refreshing tea that can be consumed hot or cold.

Quince Jam: To make this jam, you only need three ingredients! A Chinese quince, cane sugar, and lemon juice.

How to Store Quince

Quinces can be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in paper towels for up to two weeks or in airy and dry places. Avoid storing the quince with other fruit because its aroma will affect the others.

Don’t store them in plastic or keep them in anything sealed because although they might look fine on the outside, they lose taste and aroma. Also, try to keep them from touching each other in case one goes bad.

Nutritional Benefits of Chinese Quince

Chinese quinces are excellent sources of vitamin C which is essential for healthy skin and helps boost the immune system. They’re also full of fiber to help the digestive system, potassium which promotes fluid balance in our bodies, folate, iron, and calcium.

They contain healthy amounts of polyphenols, an antioxidant that helps maintain cardiovascular health, and flavonoids, which protect against cell damage.

Where to Purchase Chinese Quince

Your best chance to find a Chinese quince is in organic stores, farmers’ markets, or Chinese food stores. The best season to buy quinces is between September and November, and they can be hard to come by.

Amber Claridge

Amber is a writer who is curious about everything and loves to learn, especially about all types of food. She enjoys widening her horizons and looks forward to visiting tropical countries and trying out their cuisines.

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