The quince is a small, deciduous tree that bears a pome fruit, similar in appearance to a pear, and bright golden-yellow when mature. The fruit is edible when cooked and there is a long history of this, but the tree is also grown for its attractive pale pink blossom and other ornamental qualities.
The immature fruit is green with dense grey-white pubescence, most of which rubs off before maturity in late autumn when the fruit changes colour to yellow with hard, strongly perfumed flesh.
Most varieties of quince are too hard, astringent and sour to eat raw unless ‘bletted’ (softened by frost and subsequent decay). High in pectin, they are used to make jam, jelly and quince pudding, or they may be peeled, then roasted, baked or stewed.
The term “marmalade”, originally meaning a quince jam, derives from “marmelo,” the Portuguese word for this fruit.