Thursday, October 15, 2009


I have quinces this year. Big ones, middle-sized ones, smallish ones; quinces picked off the tree and wind-fallen on the ground; yellow, ripening, fragrant quinces and spring-green immature quinces. I admit, they are not the "true" quince, Cydonia oblonga; they are the flowering quince, Chaenomeles japonica. I do not care. The fruits smell and cook up just like the real kind, which makes them real enough quinces to me. I'm told they make excellent jelly and other scrumptious things, and I intend to try.

Last year I had exactly one fruit of any size. The year before that, and before that, and before that, there was no fruit, period. Come to think of it, there wasn't much in the way of flowers those years, either. This shrub was a thorny nothing straggling along the ground my first spring here. I propped it up with bricks so it'd grow upright, but it was a long time before I could identify what that angular bush in the corner of the vegetable garden even was. So this year it was gratifying to see such a yield from a shrub that I'm reliably told isn't supposed to bear much fruit at all.

True, it would've been even more gratifying had conditions cooperated to keep the fruit on the shrub awhile longer. Annoying to have most of one's harvest on the ground before it's reached full size and ripeness.

But I'm not giving up my dream of quince jelly. I've been on the InnerToobs the last two evenings, trying to discover the best way to ripen up the green ones. Finally this evening I found a page called From Harvest to Table that told me I should spread the green ones out in a cool dry place, turn them every so often, and they should be ripe in a few days. Oh, yes, and they should be out of direct sunlight. Oh. That's why some of the ones I brought in first were getting kind of wrinkly on the windowsill!

So tonight I laid down newspapers on my pantry shelf in the basement and arranged my haul. Cool and dry and out of direct sunlight. Will more of them turn golden yellow and start to emanate the heady sweet essence of quince?

We'll see. At least, it'll keep the fruit away from my dog. He had two or three of the bigger ones on the floor of the front room with bite marks in them when I got home from work this afternoon. Guess he thought they smelled good enough! Happily, they're hard enough he couldn't actually eat them, and once they're scrubbed and boiled his incursions won't matter.

I don't think.

Tomorrow, maybe, I'll have my first go at quince jelly making with the ones that are already yellow and sweet-smelling. It'd be a shame if I missed the opportunity.

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