Quince fruit ripens, it is typically ready to harvest from late summer to late fall, depending on variety and growing conditions. It is an ancient fruit that ripens best in hot climates but will grow readily in a wide variety of locations and conditions. Related to pears and apples, the quince can appear a little unappealing when picked straight from the tree but can be transformed into something quite special once cooked. In this article, we will look at how to pick quince fruit.
What You'll Learn Today
- When Are Quince Ripe?
- How Do You Pick Quince Fruit Without Damaging Them?
- How Do You Ripen Quince?
- How Should Quince Be Packed?
When Are Quince Ripe?
Quinces ripen at different times depending on the cultivar, climate, and growing conditions. Early fruiting varieties begin to ripen from September in the Northern Hemisphere, while late fruiting varieties, or those being grown in cooler conditions, can ripen as late as December.
Early Season Fruiting Variety
- Missouri Mammouth – Large round fruits. Trees produce a light crop.
Early To Mid-Season Fruiting Variety
- DeVranja – Large pear-shaped fruits. Trees produce a medium crop of high quality.
Mid-Season Fruiting Varieties
- Rea’s Mammoth – Large pear-shaped fruits. Produces a medium crop.
- Appleshaped – Medium size round fruits. Trees produce a heavy crop of high quality.
- Champion – Medium size pear-shaped fruits. Producing a heavy crop of high quality.
- Smyrna – Large pear-shaped fruits. Produces a light crop of high quality.
Mid To Late Season Fruiting Varieties
- Mummery’s Seedling – Large pear-shaped fruits. Trees produce a medium crop of high quality.
- Pineapple – Medium size, pear shaped fruits. Producing a heavy crop of high quality.
- Fuller’s – Medium to large size, pear shaped fruits. Heavy crop.
Late Season Fruiting Varieties
- Master’s Early – Medium to large size, pear shaped fruits. Heavy crop.
- DeBourgeaut – Medium to large size, pear shaped fruits. Light crop.
Very Late Season Fruiting Varieties
- Van Deman – Medium size, pear shaped fruits. Produces a medium crop.
This is not a full list of all the varieties available but it gives a good cross-section.
The warmer the climate, the faster the fruits will ripen, and similarly, the cooler the climate, the slower they ripen.
It is always best to keep an eye on your fruit and watch for when they start changing color from green to yellow. When they are an even yellow color all over, they are ripe.
Another way to tell if your fruits are ripe is their scent. Ripe quinces have a very powerful, strong, sweet, floral fragrance when they are ripe. Once you smell this wonderful aroma on the breeze, take a ripe-looking fruit and give it a gentle twist. If it comes off in your hand, it’s ripe.
Ensure you pick them as soon as you notice ripeness; otherwise, they will begin to fall from the tree. Although their skin seems tough, it will actually bruise easily and can dramatically shorten the fruit’s fresh storage time.
In this video, you can see two varieties of quince at harvest time:
Ripening Fruits Off The Tree
Although quinces are a fruit that continues to ripen after picking, to gain the best flavor and texture, they should be allowed to ripen fully on the tree whenever possible.
How Do You Pick Quince Fruit Without Damaging Them?
Care must be taken when picking quince fruits as they are easily damaged.
If your fruit doesn’t come away from its stem easily with a simple twist, then it may still not be ripe.
Commercial producers will often harvest the fruits before they are fully ripe in order to facilitate journey times, and because the less ripe the fruit, the better they travel. They are also not so tender, reducing bruising.
If you need to pick your fruits before they are fully ripe, you will need to cut them from the branch with a pair of secateurs.
This can become necessary if there is a warning of a major frost because that will spoil the fruit.
Unlike other fruits that become tender and give to the touch when ripe, quince fruits will not. They remain hard. If you find a quince that is soft, it has gone rotten and should be discarded.
If you want to sell your quince crop to the fresh fruit market, then it is best to gather them before they reach full maturity. They should be fully formed and only just beginning to yellow, or even still green.
The fresh fruit market for quince is currently quite limited, and it is usual for them to be harvested and marketed before they are fully ripe as this increases shelf life.
Quince will readily ripen once picked, so this does not present a problem for the end customer.
To extend the harvesting period, it is best to grow a selection of varieties, as they ripen at different times throughout the season, so this can extend their marketing period for up to two months.
Early Ripening Variety
- Missouri Mammouth
Early to Mid Ripening Varieties
- Powell’s Prize
- De Vranja
Mid-Season Ripening Varieties
- Rea’s Mammouth
Mid To Late Season Ripening Varieties
- Mummery’s Seedling
Late Season Ripening Varieties
- Master’s Early
- De Bourgeaut
Very Late Season Ripening Variety
- Van Deman
Note should be taken that this is only a guide, as ripening times can vary for many reasons, including climate, soil conditions, and the health of the tree.
When picking commercial crops, as the fruits are not fully ripe, they require cutting from the tree with hand pruners.
If the fruit is bruised, damaged, or mushy, it should not be harvested as it will spoil too quickly and could cause other stored fruits to go bad.
Quince should not be stored alongside other fruit, as its pungent aroma can cause them to become tainted.
How Do You Ripen Quince?
There are two ways to ripen your quince. The first and most preferable is leaving them on the tree until they are ready. The skin of the fruit will turn from green to an even yellow color, and you’ll be able to tell from their magnificent aroma.
The second way is to pick the quince carefully, being gentle, so you don’t damage the delicate skin. It can then be placed on a countertop in your kitchen, or in the fresh vegetable “crip” drawer of your refrigerator until it ripens.
If you want to store and ripen a lot of quinces, place them into boxes on sheets of newspaper or in shredded paper, ensuring there is plenty of space for air circulation around them and that no fruits are touching each other.
Place them in a cool, dark place for six to eight weeks. Be careful not to keep quince fruits near apples, as they will cause them to go bad more rapidly.
How Should Quince Be Packed?
Ensure the fruits are dry and rub off the fuzz with a soft cloth being careful not to damage them in any way. Place them into wooden crates on newspaper or onto cardboard egg cartons, ensuring none of them touch each other. Don’t put weight directly onto the quinces.
Store in a cool dark place such as a root cellar or basement. Keep an eye on them and remove any that start developing any signs of bruising, wrinkling, or other damage.
They can also be kept in the refrigerator or frozen.
You can find another article all about how to store quince fruit.
If you’ve harvested quince for extended storage or to sell them at a market etc., then you can put them into fibreboard fruit cartons, or if they are too large, pack in shredded paper in fruit boxes. The fruits must be kept in a single layer, as they will bruise if any pressure is placed upon them, and no fruits must touch one another.
Individual cartons can then be stacked for easy transportation or storage.
Despite quince being a hard fruit containing little juice, it is still easy to bruise and damage the skin. Picking and handling must therefore be done with care.
Ripe quince fruits should come away from the tree easily with a simple twist. Unripe fruits will require cutting from the branch.
Quince can be stored for several weeks in storage boxes, providing the fruits do not touch. They should not be kept with other fruit.
Commercial producers can harvest quince before it reaches full ripeness to prolong the life of the fruit as quince will readily ripen off the tree.
More articles about quince are available in this series and can be found by visiting our blog.