Although most people have never even heard of quince fruit, it’s a flavorful fruit that has been around for centuries. Besides being a staple in many traditional forms of medicine, it has also been enjoyed since biblical times and was considered a prominent part of the diet for ancient Greeks and Romans alike.
In recent years, a slew of studies have confirmed the healing effects of this powerful fruit, with research showing that it could offer a variety of benefits, from improved regularity to better heart health.
So what does quince taste like, and what is it good for? Keep reading for more about this unique ingredient and how you can incorporate it into your diet.
What Is Quince?
Also known by its scientific name, Cydonia oblonga, quince is a type of fruit that is lumpy, pear-shaped and bright green, with a hue that is similar to a Golden Delicious apple. Although it’s often considered a cross between an apple and a pear, it has a stronger aroma, firmer texture and a tough, spongy flesh.
There are many different cultivars of the fruit, including Vranja, Champion, orange and pineapple quince fruit, all of which offer slight variations in taste, texture and appearance.
In addition to its delicious fruit, the quince tree is also grown as an ornamental plant, thanks to its pale pink quince flower blossoms. Note that this plant is not to be confused with flowering quince, a type of quince bush that belongs to a different species of plants and is grown for its bright red flowers.
Interestingly enough, the quince fruit actually has an incredibly rich history. In fact, it’s believed that the apples referred to in the Garden of Eden and the Song of Solomon in the Bible were actually quinces.
In ancient Greece, the quince plant became a symbol of love and fertility and was even considered a staple in weddings. According to Greek legend, the Golden Apple of Discord that triggered the Trojan War was not actually an apple, but a quince fruit.
Quince fruit is a great source of vitamin C and fiber. It also contains a wealth of other important nutrients, including copper, potassium and iron.
One fruit (about 92 grams) contains the following nutrients:
- 52.4 calories
- 14.1 grams carbohydrates
- 0.4 grams protein
- 0.1 grams fat
- 1.7 grams dietary fiber
- 13.8 milligrams vitamin C (23 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams copper (6 percent DV)
- 181 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)
- 0.6 milligrams iron (4 percent DV)
- 7.4 milligrams magnesium (2 percent DV)
- 15.6 milligrams phosphorus (2 percent DV)
In addition to the nutrients listed above, quince fruit also contains a small amount of vitamin A, thiamine, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium and selenium.
Health Benefits of Quince
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Quince fruit is a great source of antioxidants, which are powerful compounds that help neutralize disease-causing free radicals and protect against chronic disease.
2. May Help Relieve Constipation
In traditional medicine, the seeds of the quince fruit were often used to treat digestive disorders, such as constipation and diarrhea. More recent research has confirmed the medicinal properties of the fruit and seeds, noting that quinces could help relieve constipation and support regularity.
One animal model showed that the seed extract helped increase the movement of the digestive tract while also enhancing muscle relaxation. It also helped activate certain receptors in the gut to stimulate contractions, which could help prevent constipation.
The fruit is also rich in fiber, which helps add bulk to the stool to treat constipation. According to a review published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, getting more fiber in your diet could help increase stool frequency in those with constipation.
3. Fights Bacteria
Several studies have found that this powerful fruit could help block the growth of harmful bacteria in the body. For instance, one in vitro study showed that quince juice helped inhibit the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a strain of bacteria that can cause sores and ulcers to develop in the lining of the stomach.
Similarly, another in vitro study found that extracts of the fruit and seeds could help protect against several other strains of bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, S. aureus and Enterobacters aerogenes, all of which are pathogenic types of bacteria that can cause infection and illness in humans.
4. Promotes Heart Health
Some research has found that this powerful fruit could help support better heart health. One animal model out of Iran, for example, found that administering extracts of the fruit to rats with diabetes helped reduce levels of total cholesterol, bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, all of which are major risk factors for heart disease.
Another animal model showed that extracts of the leaves and fruit were effective at reducing blood pressure in rats, which is another issue that can contribute to heart disease.
5. Supports Wound Healing
Historically, quince seeds and leaves were used to help support wound healing and promote tissue repair. More recently, several studies have confirmed that this fruit could possess powerful healing properties.
One in vitro study found that the seeds were able to act as wound-healing agents by stimulating the growth of new tissue after injury. Not only that, but another animal study also found that applying seed extract ointment topically was effective at healing second-degree burn wounds in mice.
However, despite these promising results, more research is needed to determine whether or not consuming the fruit as part of a balanced diet provides the same benefits.
6. Prevents GERD
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition that occurs when stomach acid flows back up into the esophagus, causing symptoms like heartburn, nausea and belching.
Promising research suggests that quince fruit could aid in the treatment and prevention of GERD. For example, a 2018 study published in Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology showed that taking quince after meals was as effective as a prescription medication used to treat GERD in pregnant women.
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to this flavorful fruit is its preparation. Because of its odd shape and firm flesh, the fruit can be fairly difficult to cut up.
Additionally, even when fully ripe, quince fruit is completely inedible raw. It needs to be cooked in order to soften it up, which gives it a sweeter flavor and tender texture.
It’s not quite as popular as other fruits like apples, oranges and pears, which can make finding quince in your local supermarket a bit of a challenge. However, with a bit of extra effort and some luck, you can start to reap the rewards of this fragrant fruit.
How to Buy, Cook and Eat (Plus Quince Recipes)
Wondering where to buy quince? Although quinces can be difficult to find, the farmers market or the produce section of your local health food store may be your best bet.
In addition to the fresh fruit, you can also find dried varieties and many other products like quince jam or quince paste at many online retailers.
There are plenty of options for how to eat quince fruit to take advantage of its unique flavor, but poaching it is one of the simplest methods. Here’s how to poach a quince:
- Cut the fruit into quarters.
- Remove the core and seeds.
- Slice off any soft spots.
- Fill a saucepan with water, and bring it to a boil.
- Add the fruit and let it simmer for 40–50 minutes until it becomes tender.
Because of its unique, tart quince taste, the fruit works well sprinkled over salads or as a quick topping for yogurt or oatmeal. Thanks to its high content of pectin fiber, it’s also well-suited for recipes like quince jelly, jam or marmalade as well.
Quince cheese is a type of thick, jelly-like paste that is made from the pulp of the fruit. It’s considered a delicacy in several different countries around the globe and is often spread over bread, served alongside cheese or used as a filling for pastries.
There are many other different options to enjoy this incredible ingredient as well. Here are a few other quince recipes that you can try out to get started:
Risks and Side Effects
For most healthy adults, quince fruit can be a nutritious and delicious addition to a well-rounded diet. However, there are several side effects that are important to consider.
Because it’s closely related to other fruits like apples, pears, apricots, plums and peaches, it’s best to exercise caution when eating quince if you are allergic to any of these other types of fruit. If you experience any adverse side effects like itching, wheezing or hives, discontinue use immediately and consult with your doctor.
Additionally, because it contains a special type of fiber called mucilage, it’s important to avoid taking medications with quince, as it can impair their absorption and reduce their effectiveness. Ideally, try taking medications at least one hour before or after consuming quince fruit.
- What is a quince? Also known by its scientific name, Cydonia oblonga, quince is a type of fruit that is similar to apples and pears, but it has a firmer texture and spongy flesh.
- It’s rich in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. It also contains a small amount of several other micronutrients, including copper, potassium and iron.
- Potential quince benefits include decreased bacterial growth, improved heart health, faster wound healing, and relief from constipation and GERD.
- On the other hand, it is a bit harder to use and prepare than other fruits and needs to be consumed cooked rather than raw.
- Although it can be somewhat tricky to find, this delicious fruit is incredibly versatile and can be included in a wide variety of different recipes.