Make Quince Jelly!

In the Fall, we often have a fruit which brings this question from most of our customers, “What is this?” When we tell them they then ask, “What do you do with them?” Make Quince Jelly!

“This is a very old recipe and the product is considered a great delicacy. Collect the quinces from the Japonica bush – Japanese Quince- very late in the season, just before frost.[…]

“Wash; cut up in quarter sections and cook with seeds and skin, in enough water to cover, until soft. Allow to drip through three thicknesses of cheese cloth. Use equal measures of sugar and juice. Boil rapidly until it jells when a drop is cooled. Pour into small glasses and cover with paraffin. Makes a clear amber jelly.”

Anna Allen, Baltimore, Md., from ‘Maryland Cooking’ Md. Home Economics Assoc.

The quince that we grow for fruit, Cydonia oblonga, basically require management practices similar to those of the peach. Control of the oriental fruit moth is necessary to produce good fruit and the tree is susceptible to fire blight. The pear-shaped fruit is very fuzzy and more resistant to diseases than the peach.

Quinces can be grown as a small tree or a large shrub. There are numerous suckers that grow from the roots and they can be removed to produce a tree that will grow to less than 15 feet high. If the suckers are left alone, it will grow into a bush. Pruning should be kept to a minimum as fruit is produced on the ends of the branches. Growing well on well-drained, heavy clay soil, they need very little fertilizer. Using a water soluble fertilizer at planting and an application of 10-10-10 for the first few years is all that should be needed.

There are also some quinces that are known for their flowers, and still produce small fruit that are useful. The Japanese Quince, Chaenomeles japonica, is a three foot high shrub with showy brick-red flowers in the Spring. Chaenomeles speciosa, Common Flowering Quince, grows six to ten feet tall and produces flowers that are scarlet-red. This plant may also be used in a hedge.

September is a time to look back over the summer and gauge how well you did with your peaches. In our case, I believe things went pretty well. It warmed up so fast this Spring that we ran out of time to apply our dormant oil spray. Also, in our effort to reduce our pesticide use we waited to apply any pesticide until petal fall. This combination resulted in heavier insect damage than I would have liked. Next year the dormant oil spray is a must to knock down the population of overwintering insects. However, our fruit set was phenomenal. We began thinning our peaches two weeks earlier than usual and it paid off. With the very hot, dry weather we had in July and into August our peaches still sized up very well thanks to that thinning job. And that weather makes the peaches as sweet as they can be. We also kept the diseases under control. We did have a problem with mites, though. With the higher insect populations we had to spray our peaches closer to harvest than we sometimes have to do. Normally we use Imidan and Asana to control cat facing insects and oriental fruit moths and quit spraying at least two weeks before harvest. However, since these insects were still present we had to use Sevin. Sevin, unfortunately, is toxic to the natural mite predators, but not to mites. Mites also love hot dry weather. Actually, the mites bothered me more than anything else. They live and feed on the underside of the leaves and as you put your hand into the tree to pick they’ll turn your hands slightly orange and make the peach fuzz itch worse than it normally does, if that’s possible. The mites really don’t do much damage to the trees and left unsprayed after harvest, the natural predators come back.

Deer were also a problem this Summer and will continue to be this Fall. Not only did they feed on the young trees we planted but they also ate the peaches right on the trees. We hang bars of soap in the young apple trees which seems to work, but it doesn’t work on cherry trees. We are going to use soap and strips of white plastic on our peach trees in an attempt to keep the bucks from rubbing against the trunks this Fall.

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