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Spa Cuisine: Quintessential Quince

Cathy Christensen November 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine

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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:

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Quick Facts: Quince

  • Because quince is so fragrant, the fruit was once used as a room deodorizer.1
  • Quince was mentioned in Greek writings around 600 B.C. as a ritual item in wedding ceremonies.2
  • Reference to the apple in the Song of Solomon in the Bible may have truly been a quince.2
  • Charlemagne was partly responsible for introducing the quince to France when he ordered the trees be planted in the royal garden.2
  • The ancient Greeks considered quince to be the symbol of fertility and dedicated them to the goddess of love.2

  • A myth says that pregnant women who eat quince will give birth to industrious and highly intelligent children.2

Spa Cuisine Recipe: Quince Jelly

Quince Jelly

From Head Chef Andrew Birsefor The Thai Foot Spa, Brisbane, Australia


61⁄2 pounds of quinces

21⁄2 pounds of sugar

3 cups red wine

2 cups port

2 cups water

1 tablespoon cloves

1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds

2 bay leaves


1. Peel quinces, and place them in a pot with other ingredients. Bring them to the boil and reduce heat to a simmer.

2. Place a paper cartouche, or lid, over the top of the quinces and simmer for approximately three hours until they are broken down and the mixture is thick. The paste should be a deep purple color.

3. Pass through a food mill into a saucepan, and place back on heat. Stir, then pour into a large greased baking tray and set it in the refrigerator for three hours, or until set.

4. To serve, cut into small portions. This recipe makes a large batch of quince jelly that is a wonderful accompaniment for a cheese plate, game meats and poultry. It is good for 30 days.

Treatment How-to: The Garden Harvest Body Treatment

From Apothecary Wellness, Baltimore

The Garden Harvest Body Treatment is a revitalizing body wrap that tightens and nourishes the skin, and features the refreshing scent of the garden.

Duration: 60 or 90 minutes

Cost: $100 or $150

Contraindications: Clients who are pregnant or claustrophobic should avoid this treatment.

Supplies needed:

1 flat sheet

1 plastic-coated blanket

1 large body towel

1 heating blanket

2 rubber bowls

Body brush

Bowl for water

5–6 regular-sized towels

Equipment needed:

Treatment table

Hot towel cabbie

Products needed:

Spinach and horsetail exfoliator

Quince body wrap

Quince body lotion

Body oil (optional)

Room setup:

Place the flat sheet on a treatment table covered with a plastic-coated blanket, and place the large body towel on top of the sheet.

Step 1: Place desired amount of spinach and horsetail exfoliator and quince body wrap in two separate rubber bowls and place in hot towel cabbie.

Step 2: Greet the client and describe the treatment. Discuss the client’s health history and remind her that clients who are pregnant or claustrophobic should avoid this treatment.

Step 3: Guide the client to treatment room and ask her to remove her robe and lie face down on the treatment table, under the top towel. Leave the room momentarily for privacy.

Step 4: Apply the spinach and horsetail exfoliator with a light effleurage scrubbing motion with fingers, starting on the back then continuing down to the legs.

Step 5: Once you have reached the feet with the exfoliator, start on the back again and apply the quince body wrap over the top of the exfoliator using the body brush.

Step 6: Once the exfoliator and body wrap have been applied to the back and the legs, ask the client to turn while holding the towels up for privacy, and repeat Steps 4 and 5 on the front of the body.

Step 7: Once complete, wrap client in the sheets and plastic-coated blanket for approximately 20 minutes while placing a heating blanket on top to keep the client warm.

Step 8: During the time the client is wrapped up, perform a relaxing scalp massage.

Step 9: After unwrapping client, use warm wet towels to remove product completely from the client’s front and back.

Step 10: Complete the treatment with a massage using the quince body moisturizer that may be mixed with body oil for more slip. If the treatment is 60 minutes, there should be about 25–30 minutes of massage; if it is 90 minutes, it should include 60 minutes of massage. The amount of oil depends on how much slip the skin care professional prefers, but the suggested amount is about 10 drops to 1/2 ounce; this should be enough for the whole body of an average size client. Use effleurage strokes to apply moisturizer.

Step 11: Complete the treatment and thank the client. After leaving the treatment room and allowing time for the client to get back in her robe, offer her a glass of flavored water and escort her to the relaxation room.

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