Monday, 10 October 2011

Dwarf Flowering Quince (10 OCT 2011)

It would be exaggerating if I called myself an insomniac, but I often used to wake up in the morning feeling more tired than when I went to sleep. Worries in my head before climbing up to bed would multiply overnight and bother me even more the following day. This was the status quo until I realised that actually sleep isn't the best way to rest because one is out of control. Isn't it the case that true repose is found when the mind is fully occupied - in the zone ?  I didn't understand what this phrase meant until I started gardening.

Last year I threw away the produce of my Dwarf Flowering Quince (chaenomeles) because I thought they were parasitic growths. It was their stalklessness that confused me, and in my defence I didn't know the name of the inherited plant with salmon-pink winter/spring blooms back then. After finally classifying it by accident, I found out that quinces had been valued in ancient times as air fresheners. I had seen them listed in pie recipes to give an enhanced apple essence, but as quinces can't be bought in local shops I didn't have a clue of their scent or flavour and have waited almost a year to harvest them this time.

My chaenomeles bush, which is actually a thicket of suckers, produced four pomes. I'm hoping for more next year as the suckers increase.

quince bush

quinces reposed

Chaenomeles are smaller, rounder, harder and more tart than regular quince (cydonia oblonga), unpleasant to eat raw, ideal for jam-making. They don't have a structured core like an apple, instead there are relatively large, pith capsules containing several seeds which pleases the gardener in me but not the cook. The yellow skin darkens and secretes aromatic oil as the fruit ripens; the scent is a cross between grapefruit and apple, but that's not doing justice to its perfume. I sliced two pomes thinly, without peeling them and boiled them down with four heaped tablespoons of sugar to a pulpy jam. The skin didn't disintegrate but could be cut with a spoon; I'm glad I kept it for its flavour and appearance. The other two fruit have been left in the fridge to simulate bletting by frost, hopefully this will sweeten them so I wont have to add so much sugar.

quince seeds
cooking quince jam

As it cooked, I thought about the most appropriate use of this precious dollop of quince jam; it didn't seem fitting to spread it on toast for breakfast. Maybe I could spoon it on top of a creamy rice pudding for two prepared for a special occasion ... I plopped the jam in a glass to cool and had a taste. It fizzled on my tongue like sherbert, my mouth was filled with its citrusy, appley tanginess. It probably needed more sugar and slightly longer cooking but I continued to eat it slowly, just taking a little on the tip of my spoon each time, due to its potency.
I sat on the back door-step, leaning against the doorway; my favourite place from where I can survey one side of the garden, eating the quinces that had grown there; deciding which plants needed to be moved from here to there, and there to here; which plants would be lightly pruned, cut back to the ground or left to grow wild; which seeds could be collected now and those that had to wait a while. Spoonful after spoonful and plant after plant ..... zzzzzzzzzzz

 

I'm linking this post to Donna's meme Word for Wednesday : REPOSE
Please check out the other posts at : http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com/2011/10/04/word-for-wednesday-repose/

©Copyright 2011 b-a-g. All rights reserved. Content created by b-a-g for http://experiments-with-plants.blogspot.com/2011/10/dwarf-flowering-quince-10-oct-2011.html

22 comments:

gardenwalkgardentalk.com said...

Glad you got some repose. I know just what you mean on those sleepless nights bouncing around the daily trials and tribulations. I do not know quince in any form, fresh fruit or pie. Nice to learn about the tree and that the fruit makes a nice jam. Thanks for joining along.

Carolyn ♥ said...

I am clueless regarding quince, other than I enjoy seeing the blossoms... never planted then my self. Not clueless about worry filled nights though. Thinking you have a great idea for repose.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Donna & Carolyn - The larger quince which is more pear-shaped was used in old english recipes. It's much more fragrant than an apple, but as it can't be eaten raw it's not as popular any more.

linniew said...

This fruit is new to me too! You did a lovely job using your instincts to create a successful recipe. And I'm glad I'm not the only one who is thinking of relocating some plants in the garden this fall.

catharine Howard said...

I never get beyond leaving them around the house....so sweetly scented.

HolleyGarden said...

No, I can't worry too much when I'm busy working in the garden. Never thought about it being a state of repose, but I suppose so! I bought a quince this spring, but it died in the drought. I had decided not to replace it, but now, with your description of its fragrance, I may have to try again!

Donna said...

I love this post...there is such repose in the garden and eating the fruit of your labor. My quince has yet to produce anything. I may have to relocate it...hoping for some fruit this coming year and now I know what to do with it..

Heather @ what's blooming this week said...

It was about a month after we moved into our home in July when I noticed the fruit from the unnamed shrub in the back border. Ahh, it's a quince, with 3 fruit on it. Can't wait to see the shrub in the spring when it's in it's full glory.

Stacy said...

"This was the status quo until I realised that actually sleep isn't the best way to rest because one is out of control." That is an amazing insight--that rest is something you do while you're awake so that you can sleep. Those beautiful moments on the back door-step eating home-made jam and pondering--those are the kinds we all hope for in the garden. Really lovely post.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Linnie - I'm always moving plants around because I start growing them in nursery patches. If they graduate, they get a spot of their own, but then they usually let me know that they would prefer to be somewhere else.

Catherine - That was a dilemma, because I miss having them around now.

Thanks Holley & Donna - Before I even knew about its fruit, I would have recommended this plant just for its long-lasting blooms which appear when everything in the garden is dead. It was even flowering while covered in snow.

Welcome Heather - Click on label : japanese quince if you want to see what it looks like through the seasons, or keep it as a surprise - you wont be disappointed.

Thanks Stacy - Unfortunately my door-step doesn't sound as comfortable as your Adirondack chair. I've tried sitting on a chair in the garden but I felt a bit exposed - I prefer to sit around doing nothing in private ...

Carolyn @ Carolyn's Shade Gardens said...

I have seen a lot of flowering quince around here and even have a small one on my porch in a pot, but have never noticed any fruit. I will have to investigate.

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Quince was already on my list for my new garden - assuming there is room for new plants and it doesn't already have some. You have made me all the more determined, I want that citrusy tangy sherbert taste...

b-a-g said...

Thanks Carolyn & Janet - I once saw a front garden where they had grown flowering quince as a hedge, taking advantage of its suckering habit. It was spectacular.

Cathy and Steve said...

I'm chuckling because we had a quince that we thought was a wiegela... until it produced fruit. It's one of the funnier garden incidents I've blogged about (Steve was pruning the shrub and commented that it was growing "apples" LOL). The fruit is tart but with enough sugar or splenda, it's absolutely decadent! Enjoy your jam!

Malar said...

I'm new to quince! I have heard but never seen them! They look a bit like lemon to me. The jam looks yummy!

tina said...

Four quince is an awesome amount. I only get two from mine and then only every other year. It looks so pretty in the pot and I hope was very good to eat.

The Sage Butterfly said...

What a great idea to pour it over rice pudding!...yummy! And, like you, I find most of my rest sitting in the garden.

b-a-g said...

Thanks Cathy - I can't laugh at Steve, considering I thought they were parasitic growths!

Thanks Malar - I was the same, I had heard about them but never seen them. The last place I expected to find them was in my garden!

Thanks Tina - I'm guessing that ours are fairly young plants. I once saw a bush the same size as mine, where the ground below was covered in rotting quinces.

Thanks SB - the quince jam didn't last long enough to complement a rice pudding. I ate it all while sitting on the doorstep.

debsgarden said...

I will never forget my first, unsuspecting bite into an unripe quince. My lips still pucker and my mouth waters at the memory. The only thing I have since encountered with the same degree of sourness is a candy my son one gave me called 'atomic warhead'. I have never tasted quince jam, but I would like to experience it!

Alistair said...

Hello b-a-g, The scientist in you makes your observations on Quince even more interesting. We do get these strange fruits on our Chaenomeles, not yellow but a drab greeny brown. I often wake up in the morning feeling more tired than I should, my neighbour says its a guilty conscience. Oh, the small blue flowers are the annual, Lobelia.

PatioPatch said...

To sleep perchance not to dream away your worries but instead you've picked and boiled them into a delectable and satisfying feast for the eyes. Love the gastronomic descriptions too
p.s. great images -do you have a new camera or have you been upskilling?

b-a-g said...

Deb - I don't think I would be brave enough to put something called atomic warhead in my mouth. I stored the remaining quinces in the fridge to blet but they just shrunk. (Bletting is when the flesh breaks down and acids turn to sugars -it's naturally induced by frost)

Alistair - Thanks for the plant name. What could you possibly be guilty about? ... not watering your plants maybe.

Thanks Laura - I have a point&click Samsung ES78 - no skill required.

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