Quince (Cydonia Oblonga), one of the oldest fruit on Earth, has powerful historic symbolism, beautiful aroma and therapeutic properties.
It was suggested as the ‘apple’ that Eve gave to Adam in the Garden of Eden. Quinces were probably the three ‘golden apples’ that Hercules stole from the Garden of Hesperides for his 12th and most dangerous labour. Historians believe that it was a quince that Paris gave to Aphrodite in exchange for the love of Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world. Aphrodite is often depicted holding a quince in her hand as a symbol of love. As recently as the 18th century, a father-in-law would present his son’s bride-to-be with a basket of quinces as an offering to bring happiness to their marriage.
Quince with its distinctive aromatic, tangy perfume is used to sweeten the breath or refresh a room, but that is not all.
Quince has been used for centuries in traditional medicine as a tonic and a diuretic. An infusion of the leaves and/or the fruit has been used for the treatment of diarrhoea and bowel bleeding, an infusion of the seeds for sore throats and the boiled fruit for cystitis.
Now, modern science has found a number of nutrients in quince, including high concentrations of polyphenols in quince pulp, peel, seeds and jam.
Quince polyphenols are natural anti-oxidants and when tested showed:
· significant antimicrobial and anti-viral activity
· protective effects against oxidative destruction of red blood cells
· protection against stomach ulcers and
· healing effect on skin lesions (the quince seeds).
Quince needs to be cooked, it cannot be eaten raw.
Cooked quince eaten alone or with other foods, can support the healing of various damaged tissues and organs and encourage the restoration of biological systems to normal function. Traditional/folk medicine has long known these properties, perhaps now is the time for us to use quince again as part of our gentle approach to natural nutritional therapy.
Recipe: Quince Rouge à la Grecque
Cut two quinces (800g -1 kg) into quarters. Place them cut side down in 1 litre of boiling water in which you’ve added the juice of 1/2 lemon.
Use the whole fruit with the skin, pulp and seeds as these contain most of the therapeutic properties and the pectin, which helps form a delicious red jelly.
To the pan with the quince and water, add the following ingredients:
4-6 tbs of brown sugar or honey
a cinnamon stick
3-4 cardamom pods
3-4 cloves and a pinch of saffron.
Simmer until the fruit is soft (usually over an hour) and the syrup turns into reddish jelly.
Serve with yoghurt.