Cydonia vulgaris – blossom, scent, ease of growing
Quinces are beautiful trees and live to a great age. These trees love to grow in fertile and moist soil. They love an open and sunny position. They are ideal near a stream.
They have beautiful large abundant white and pink blossoms, fairly late in the spring. A very hardy tree. They usually do best with a companion. I recommend Vranja and Meeches Early Prolific. The latter is smaller and more suitable for the smaller garden.
The trees, once established, need no further attention as they are very capable of looking after themselves. However in the early years it is important to remove crossing branches and any other branches which reduce the entry of light into the tree. The black marking that can occur on the fruits is caused by crossing branches that scar the quinces.
As for all fruit trees, in the early years, it is important to give the quince trees water in very dry summer periods.
The fruits are very aromatic and should be stored on their own, as the quince scent will adversely affect the flavour of other fruits. Store them in a cool, frost-free place. The fruits are superb for the preparation of a large range of dishes either as an addition or by themselves.
If, in addition to the blossom, you like the quince fruits as well, then plant 2 Quinces, not of the same variety. There is plenty of choice; Champion, Vranja, Portugal, Serbian Gold, Meeches Prolific. The fruits are a highly attractive and mostly deep yellow. The size of the fruits varies according to the variety. The scent of the ripening fruits, for example Vranja, is just wonderful. The intensity increases as the fruits ripen. The shape of the fruits is different from one variety to the next; Serbian Gold quinces are more apple-shaped while Vranja is more elongated. Meeches Prolific fruits are smaller in size, but of more distinctive flavour, useful when making quince marmalade or quince jelly, or as slices used to add flavour to apple pies. Meeches Prolific crops early, and it is also the most regular cropper.
How to plant quince trees
Quinces love organic matter and need to be planted in bare ground around the stem. NO GRASS!! For the first three years, keep 4 square feet around the trunk of the tree clear of grass and weeds and well mulched with organic matter/manure. In the first three years, during drought, help the tree with a full watering can regularly, to stop the tree from drying out.
Planting distance of quince trees depends on soil depth. Deep loamy soils will produce a larger canopy, compared with stony, shallow soils. As a benchmark, allow 3 to 5 metre spacing, depending on site and soil quality. No need for detailed pruning whatsoever. Just remove the odd crossing branch or broken branch. That’s all. The trees are very independent and like to look after themselves. All you have to do is to enjoy their beauty and their flavoursome fruits.
How to use quince fruits
There are several ways of preparing quinces for jams, chutneys, jellies etc. It is the initial preparation which is important to get right. The fruits are rock-hard and therefore need to be softened up before peeling and coring them:
- wash the quinces
- wrap each one in foil
- bake in the oven until soft, for up to 1 hour
- unwrap when cool and remove cores and any skin
- use for recipes as required.