My flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) seems to have set and ripened fruit. Are these edible? What can I do with them?
Answer: Quinces, or Chaenomeles speciosa, are stunning, deciduous shrubs with bursts of small, radiant red blooms that cover the bare branches during spring before the foliage fully emerges. Pink and white varieties are also available. The striking flowers are followed by bunches of hard, speckled, yellowish-green crabapple-like fruit that sometimes matures to red.
Although edible, these spotted fruits shouldn’t be consumed when picked fresh from the shrub because the flavor is too bitter and very acidic. The fruit is often harvested in late summer and early fall, then cooked, usually with boiling water, to be used in jams and jellies—often alongside other fruits, such as apples. This bitter fruit is also used in medicine; it is said to help treat joint pain, nausea and inflammation.
If you have a flowering quince with ripened fruit, why not try harvesting and then cooking them? Find recipes online for preserves and jellies that use quince fruit and see if you like the taste. Be creative! Try mixing them with your favorite fruits to see what delicious dishes you can make. This bitter fruit is said to be full of vitamin C and other important nutrients, making it an interesting and nutritious spread for breads and crackers.
The Smart Gardening Techniques: Edible Gardening offers valuable tips on growing edibles.
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