Highly regarded by the ancient Greeks and Romans, the quince (pronounced “kwins”) is thought to be the “golden apple” that Paris awarded to Aphrodite as a symbol of love, marriage and fertility in Greek mythology.1 Although often thought of as the less popular sibling of pears and apples, quince is a fruit that has been cultivated and revered for thousands of years in parts of Asia and the Mediterranean regions, particularly in the Middle East, Greece and Saudi Arabia.1 This storied and pear-shaped fruit is a late-harvesting crop that grows on small trees and should be picked as late as possible in the fall since the fruits grow larger and ripen only on trees.2 Quince itself is very hard with seeds, has a yellow, downy skin and yellow flesh that gives off a strong, rich, fruity scent. Quince almost always needs to be cooked in order to achieve its flavorful potential, with a raw flesh that is firm, tough and astringent.2
In the kitchen
Although considered a specialty fruit in the United States, the quince is widely grown in Turkey, South America and throughout the Mediterranean.3 Because it is rich in tannins and pectins, the quince gels easily, making it a common ingredient for jellies, jams and pastes; in fact, the word “marmalade” comes from the Portuguese inannelo or marmelo, meaning quince.2 The most popular varieties in the United States are pineapple quince, which is the most common variety, and the apple quince, a sweeter variety developed in the 1990s that can be enjoyed raw.4 As well as being made into jam, quince can be made into wine and cider, stewed and baked, and almost anything that can be done to apples can translate to quinces.1
The fruit is used in a variety of spa cuisine recipes, as well, including:
Caramelized Maple and White Asparagus Crème—Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa, Cambridge, Ontario, Canada;
Lunch Bento Box Gala Apple & Vermont Aged Cheddar Salad With Quince Vinaigrette—The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Boston;
Golden Bear Cheese Palette With Membrillo Quince Paste—Grapeseed Spa at the South Coast Winery Resort & Spa in Temecula, California; and
Quince Jelly—See recipe from Andrew Birse, Head Chef for The Thai Foot Spa in Brisbane, Australia.
In the spa
Along with its delicate flavor and amazing aroma, the quince also has been used therapeutically in a variety of ways, for the body’s general health, as well as the health of the skin. High in quercetin, a flavenoid known for its notable antioxidant potency, the quince helps tighten and tone sluggish, large-pored skin, helping increase elasticity and rejuvenate skin. The pectin from quince seeds also has a cooling, protecting, softening, calming and anti-irritating effect.6 Quince is no stranger to spa treatments, and is a popular addition to a variety of different services, including:
The White Tea Spa Signature Facial, which includes a quince and ice wine mask that helps firm and restore radiance—White Tea Med Spa, New York City;
The Vino Choc Indulge Facial includes quince combined with Hungarian Tokay grapes, champagne and orange essential oil for revitalized skin—Noosa Springs Golf & Spa Resort, Queensland, Australia;
The Red Flower Hammam Body Treatment includes oxygenation of the skin provided by orange quince mist—Body By Brooklyn Spa and Lounge, Brooklyn, New York;
The Quince-Apple Masque is a body mask that purifies, soothes and replenishes dry, dehydrated skin—Tuscany, Evans, Georgia;
The Caviar Collagen Face Mask includes quince and witch hazel extracts to help increase hydration and promote healing—Dasha Wellness , New York City; and
The Garden Harvest Body Treatment—See step-by-step how-to from Apothecary Wellness, Baltimore.
Many professional skin care and spa products also feature the benefits of quince.
Red Flower’s Orange Quince Steam Room Mist is the fourth step in the traditional hammam sequence, bringing oxygen to the skin to replenish and awaken.
Dr.Hauschka’s Quince Day Cream is a moisturizer that provides protecting qualities for every day use to help balance and moisturize the skin.
ilike organic skin care’s Quince Apple Gel Mask helps contract, hydrate, firm and nourish facial skin.
Éminence Organic Skin Care’s Quince & Ice Wine Masque helps tone and nourish skin featuring quince apple for its antioxidant and anti-irritant properties.
Warm up to quince
Although less popular than its siblings, the quince can tease the palette with its rich, fruity flavor, and can help improve the dry, irritated skin that comes with the harsh winter weather. Consider embracing this unique specialty fruit in your spa, and entice your clients with this age-old favorite on your cuisine and skin care menu.
(All accessed Sep 13, 2011)