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Spa Cuisine: Quintessential Quince

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: October 28, 2011, from the November 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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;