If you use quinces in some of your recipes, you’ll notice they’re notoriously difficult to find. In fact, outside of areas such as North Africa, the eastern part of the Mediterranean basin and the Arabian Peninsula, it’s hard to find this fruit, which means you may need a Plan B.
What Are Quinces?
Quinces are pear-like fruits that have a hard texture and a slightly acidic taste. They are used for preserving and for making other recipes, including many desserts. When raw, they’re practically impossible to eat, but they become very sweet and tasty when cooked. Today’s quinces look like a pear-apple hybrid, with a nice yellow color and a delicate aroma. Most people use quinces for jellies and jams, but they can be used for your next sweet dessert as well.
4 Excellent Quince Substitutes
If you can’t find quinces, there are some good substitutes you can use in your recipes, including:
- Apples and lemon rind
- Cherries and rose petals
- Pears and lemon rind
1. Apples and Lemon Rind
Apples mixed with a little lemon rind make a great substitute for quinces, giving your dish the right taste and texture that will make anyone believe it was made with quinces instead. The apples bring out the perfect texture and taste, while the lemon rinds add a little citrus flavor that is the perfect accompaniment to the recipe. Golden delicious apples tend to work best, but in reality, you can use just about any type of apples you like.
2. Cherries and Rose Petals
Quinces tend to turn a little reddish-pink when you cook them, which is why cherries can be used as a substitute. If you want the nice floral aroma to go with it, simply add some rose petals, but make sure they are the edible type and nothing else. As far as the cherries go, you can use either the tart type or the sweet type, but many people prefer the latter, especially when making some type of dessert. Roses and peonies tend to be used more than other types of flowers in these instances.
3. Pears and Lemon Rind
Pears are not tart but have a sweet flavor instead, and it helps to add lemon rind to it so that it balances out the flavor. Pears also have a soft texture, which means you don’t have to have a certain type of pear for these recipes. Just make sure that the pears are ripe and that they are a little on the soft side. Pears are not as dense as apples, so you might not have to cook them as long when making your dishes, but the taste is very similar to using quinces.
If you think of a flavor that is a cross between a mild strawberry and a plum, this is essentially what a fig tastes like. Figs can also be rather difficult to find, but they won’t be as hard to find as quinces are. They are not a perfect substitute for quinces, but they are still very close, especially if you like their taste. Figs also have seeds in them that pop in your mouth, which is one of the things a lot of people love best about them.
What to Look for When Buying Quinces
When you find quinces at a farmers’ market or supermarket, you need to know how to buy them. Look for quinces that are very solid and that have no bruises, skin marks, or wrinkling. You want a solid color for your quinces, but a few small marks are acceptable. A little fuzz might be on it, but that will disappear the riper it gets. As far as color goes, look for a nice yellow or golden shade and fruit that has a pleasant aroma. Just like an apple, you always have to peel and core a quince before cooking with it.
Quinces are an ancient fruit that have been around at least since the late 1200s, and in the past they were added to meat to give it a little more flavor. They can be roasted, stewed or even poached, and they are used to make jellies and jams, marmalades, and preserves. Cooks add them to dishes that contain meat of any type and as an enhancement for foods such as apple sauce and even in compotes. They are a very versatile fruit.