Does anyone use quince?

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Nick Z

Well-Known Member
Nov 23, 2019
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I know I already have a long thread going but I wanted to ask specifically about using quince in cider making.

I am fortunate enough to have several pounds of quince. So far I have been freezing it in slices and puree form for later use in things like jams, sauces, etc.

But I was thinking of adding it to apple juice for fermentation. Or, possibly, trying to ferment the quince by itself.

I ran some quince through my juicer the other day. The resulting juice was incredibly tannic. Like having someone coat your mouth with cotton balls. And the yield was poor. But even so, I am curious to try it. As a small component of apple juice I thought it might be useful. I have read that tannins (up to a point) are desirable in cider. And the apple juice that I am going to have access to (store bought) isn't very tannic. Perhaps I could use the quince to add tannins and other flavors in?

I was thinking I could run the quince through the juicer and get some juice. Then I could take the pulp and put in pectinase and let it sit for a while and see if I can extract more juice. I imagine that the yield, no matter what I do, will be low. But I wouldn't think I would need more than a quart or two of the stuff.

The idea intrigues me but it might also be incredibly stupid. Quince taste pretty awful raw. But when you boil them they lose those tannins. That's more of a feature than a bug when using them in cooking.

What has been your experience with quince?

I know that quince are fairly rare. Less than 200 acres are planted commercially in the United States. And quince is 84% water so there must be a way to get the juice out. And, lastly, I do need to use these things up before they rot.

And if I juiced the quince should I peel them first? I have always taken off the peels but perhaps that was unwise. I will rub off the brown fuzz on the skins first.

Thanks in advance.
used to have three ancient overly productive Quince trees on the old farm. never considered them for more than a supplement to jelly/jam making, though using them as the only fruit yielded a very honey-like fruit 'butter'

I tried using the apple press on them one year, but the juice output was next to nothing
I'll probably do some with the peel on and some without. There may, in theory, be some flavor in the peels. Maybe. I will scrub them first to get the brown fuzz off.

I have tried a few different methods to get juice out of quince and here are the results:

I decided to take the peels off. I chopped the quince into pieces to get rid of the core. Then I ran them through the juicer. I got an incredibly small amount of juice. Six or seven medium size quince produced about 1/4 cup of juice after I filtered it through strainers.

I did several more pounds of quince. Then I put pectinase in the pulp, stirred it up and let it sit overnight. No additional juice was visible in the morning. I ended up dumping it into some sugar water to make quince syrup for other things.

I also froze some quince chunks overnight and then thawed them. The thawed quince were very brown and somewhat softer (like a rubber ball rather than a baseball). I ran those through the juicer. I think I got a slightly higher yield but not significantly. Still, if you wanted to juice your own quince that is probably the way to go.

The raw juice is pretty tart but not incredibly so. But very tannic. After cooking the quince becomes less potent in the tannin department. This may be good or bad. Cooking basically "softens" the quince flavors. But it does release more juice. Breaking them down requires boiling them. On the plus side this would generate a juice that is basically pasteurized.

I'll probably freeze some more quince and juice them so I can get a quart and freeze the juice later. I think raw quince juice would probably be better in cider. Though as a total newbie my opinion shouldn't be worth much. I was curious to see about fermenting pure quince juice but I don't think I will have enough juice for that experiment. I imagine the result would been hideous anyway.

But overall: Juicing quince is not worth the trouble for mere mortals.
I made some quince/apple cider years ago and didn't like the taste.
I put it in the back of my wine/cider storage area and its still there. I'm away from home now, but when I get back next week I'll sample it and let you know how it tastes.
A local orchard that presses a heritage cider blend once a year always adds som quince. I think the just run it thru the scratter. But then they have a moderate commercial press.
I have been juicing my quince. So far I have gotten half a quart out of probably ten pounds or more of quince.

I have been running the juice through fine mesh strainers several times. I was trying to get as much solids and foam out as I could. But I'm wondering.... is that stupid? Should I be leaving more solids in? I assume I can clear it with pectic enzyme later, yes? How fine should I be straining it? The juicer leaves a lot of pulp in there, without straining.
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I tried juicing some quince the other day in a centrifugal juicer, and I nearly burned out the juicer. I'm going to let them sit for awhile and maybe freeze them like Nick Z did. These fruits are really hard, and don't seem to have much juice in them
Freezing helped a little but not a lot. Quince just don't want to give up their juices. According to Wikipedia they are 84% water so there has to be juice in there. Another thing to watch out for is that raw quince pulp sticks like glue to everything it touches.

This may be one of those rare instances where boiling it first is a good idea. Yes, it does knock down the tannins. And the amount of juice you get isn't hugely more. But it's easier and less messy and the quince flavor doesn't disappear when cooked.

Another possible avenue with quince is that if you cook them for a long period of time (around two hours or more) eventually they turn red. This could add some visual interest to whatever you put them into.

Maybe you can unlock the juice with a metric ton of pectic enzyme. I tried several teaspoons and it didn't help.

If you juice them and have leftover pulp you can try making something called "membrillo." Which is sweetened quince pulp cooked down for a couple of hours, poured into a pan, and then dehydrated in an oven at a low temperature until it is about the consistency of mozzarella cheese.

Adding a vanilla bean during the cooking process helps as well. Quince pairs nicely with vanilla. Or add vanilla extract at the end of the cooking process if you don't want to pay through the nose for a whole bean.
Do you think boiling them whole with skins on will soften them up without loosing flavor?
Or steaming them perhaps.
I've boiled a lot of quince this year. After sampling the raw juice and then the quince after being boiled I can tell you there is some loss of tannins. BUT-The tannins are still there in the cooked quince. And the floral aroma is enhanced by heat.

You will need a little bit of water in your pot (and a lid over the pot) to get them going. Once the quince start to break down and get wetter you can keep adding more raw quince.

Even cooked quince is pretty potent. And it would help kill off any micro organisms on the fruit.

After juicing I am putting some sugar and water in the leftover pulp and boiling the hell out of it. I will then squeeze out the resulting liquid. I suspect that liquid will go nicely as an adjunct to other juices.

I got about a quart of raw quince juice. Just stuck it in the freezer. It took probably fifteen pounds of quince to get that. I'm not going to be juicing quince again. It just wasn't worth the trouble. Maybe next year I will try and find someone with a press and see if they will press them.

I took the leftover pulp and heated it up... and it didn't release much more juice, which surprised me. I had to add water to even get it to the point where I could get a reliable simmer.

You can make a nice jam with quince but beyond that... I don't know.
Quince are very hard and have little juice. When Koreans make a tea from it, they chop them thinly and let them set in a jar packed with sugar, which after a few months has acquired that quince flavor, which in turn the fruit is used with hot water for a tea.
Likewise, I would simply chop this up into thin sections and let it soak in your secondary. That way the qualities of the fruit would express themselves over time.
That is probably what I will do in the future. I will not be juicing quince again unless someone is willing to press them for me. And it sounds like even then the juice yield is terrible.

I wonder why it is they are so lacking in juice. Quince are 84% water. Almost all plants are chiefly water. So what keeps the juice locked away? Fiber? Pectin? Specialized cells, like in pears? Super tough cell walls?
Based on the limited botany I had I would guess tougher cell walls but what I've read about quince is they really need to be cooked down to bring out their character. Cooking how-to's are on the internet and you could consider using the cooked fruit or even making a cooked-fruit extraction though that may be more trouble than it's worth.
I had a lot of quince this year and most of it got used cooked in jams, applesauce, etc. On a couple of occasions I cooked it in a small amount of water, pureed it, and then tasted it. The cooked fruit is considerably softened in flavor. I wouldn't say it was better.

My logic in getting raw juice out of it was that the tannins and strong flavor of the raw stuff would be "better" for fermenting than cooked quince. Also, I didn't get substantially more juice out of it cooked. Most of the liquid was the added water.

I thought that raw quince juice, with its strong tannins and flavor would be good for mixing with juice (in small quantities) in making a cider. I wouldn't use it by itself even if I had enough to do so.

I know that conventional wisdom is that quince is better when cooked. But I wonder if that is simply because quince is so impractical to use raw that no one bothers to use it raw. I imagine there are some orchardists or cider makers that press raw quince.

If I was to dump some quince into my secondary how would I sanitize it? I'd be concerned about introducing unwanted microbes into the brew. If I put it in primary I assume I could just hit the mixture with campden before putting in the yeast.

I would probably cut the quince into very small pieces or maybe puree it first. Because my fermenters are just one gallon jugs and I doubt I could get chunks of quince out of them later.

My supply of fresh quince is gone but I froze a few pounds in the form of cooked puree and in the form of quince chunks. When the chunks are thawed they will become softer and more amenable to being cut up raw.
I have successfully made a quince flavored cider, but not as you are going about it. I made a normal apple cider then back sweetened it with some quince that I had rendered down on the stovetop. I peeled the quince first as I didn't want the pectin. Cooked it down strained it and added to the finished cider. Wasn't bad. Interesting flavor but not wow, must do it again.
I have successfully made a quince flavored cider, but not as you are going about it. I made a normal apple cider then back sweetened it with some quince that I had rendered down on the stovetop. I peeled the quince first as I didn't want the pectin. Cooked it down strained it and added to the finished cider. Wasn't bad. Interesting flavor but not wow, must do it again.

What yield of juice did you get? Did you have to add some water to get the quince cooking?

Quince does have an interesting flavor but on its own it is kind of... meh. At least once cooked. I tasted the raw quince juice and it was like having cotton sprayed all over my mouth. Not something I would want to drink but I do think it could make an interesting component of a cider.

For better or for worse (probably better) that insane level of cotton mouth feeling did not happen with cooked quince.

Quince is kind of like cranberries in that it needs softening and sugar to be edible on its own. But even then it isn't all that interesting. Different, yes. Interesting... not so much. Some vanilla extract or a vanilla bean helps. I actually think a tad bit lemon juice helps as well.

It works nicely as a component of apple sauce or as a jam or fruit butter.
FWIW, the cider mill I used this year added 2% quince and aronia berries to the batch for cider makers. That's not much. Acid and tannin are what they're looking for, not flavors.
What do you think would be a desireable amount of quince juice to use for cider? A cup per gallon? A quart? Tablespoons?
Freezing them worked great! When they thawed, they were like over-ripe pears, and the juice was quite sweet compared to when they were fresh. They looked like brown rocks, or turds from a constipated rhino, when they came out of the freezer, nasty.
Freezing them worked great! When they thawed, they were like over-ripe pears, and the juice was quite sweet compared to when they were fresh. They looked like brown rocks, or turds from a constipated rhino, when they came out of the freezer, nasty.

Splendid! What kind of juice yield did you get? While the frozen and thawed quince were softer and therefore easier on the equipment I didn't get a larger quantity of juice out of them.

I froze a couple of bags of quince chunks. I'm thinking of taking out one or two, finely chopping them or pureeing them and tossing them in with apple juice during primary fermentation. I figure the yeast and pectic enzyme will extract some flavors and I'll leave behind the pulp after racking.