Originating in Asia, quinces can be dated back to 600BC but they were only introduced to the UK a measly 700 years ago. Quinces were extremely popular in medieval times usually served as a jelly with meat or in pies. These days, the fruit is relatively unknown and woefully underused across the country. Though they do grow in the British Isles, the majority of quinces consumed in the UK are imported from Turkey, the world’s largest producer.
Quinces need to be cooked to be edible as they have a harsh woody centre that has to be broken down before eating. They are high in pectin, and therefore great for jam-making. The most well-known application of quince is probably Spanish membrillo, a hard jelly made cooking the fruits at a low temperature for a long time during which chemicals are released and the fruit turns red. Membrillo makes a great accompaniment to cheese and cold meats.