I make my quince jelly with the fruits from the garden shrub, Chaenomeles (commonly known as Japanese quince). My elder son is a bit sniffy about these things and tells me they're not real quinces but I don't care because the taste is just as good.
The true quince, Cydonia, is a small deciduous tree in the Rosaceae family (which includes apples and pears) and is a native of Asia. Although it does grow in the northern hemisphere and survives as far north as Scotland, it s not widely cultivated and its fruits are not readily available. There is another similar variety, Pseudocydonia or Chinese quince, also a native of Asia and which does survive in Southern Europe but the fruits are not readily available in the UK.
Fortunately the related plant, Chaenomeles or Japanese quince, which has edible quince like fruits is common in gardens throughout England. It is a shrub with sharp thorns and attractive flowers, usually bright orange red, but the flowers can be red, pink or white. The bush flowers in early spring or sometimes late winter. It is grown mainly as a decorative garden shrub, often as a flowering hedge but the fruits can be harvested from October.
Regrettably I don't have a Japanese quince bush in my garden but there is often food for free from neighbours. This year I found a supply on Streetlife. I was too late for David's, but he has put me on his list for next year, and I did get a reasonable picking from Jane's hedge a few blocks away.
To make quince jelly you use the whole fruit, pips and all, which are rich in pectin so you should always get a firm set. If you don't want to make jelly, or if you have a few to spare, try a few added to stewed apple or an apple pie or crumble - just peel them, remove the seeds and core and chop and add them to the apples. They add a wonderful perfume and a tart taste.
I have posted my recipe for Quince Jelly on my blog.
November 2015, Hove
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