Quince is a wonderful fruit for making a variety of sweet and savory dishes. The fruits, when treated properly, will keep for several months as they are. For longer storage solutions they can be refrigerated or frozen. In this article, we’ll be looking at how to store quince fruits so they are ready to use whenever you need them.
What You'll Learn Today
How to Pick Quince Fruit for Storing
Before you can store your quinces, first you need to know how to harvest them correctly so that they remain at their best:
- Firstly, ensure the fruits are completely ripe. They should have an even, golden coloration all over.
- Quince usually ripens in late fall and early winter, although this can vary depending on where you live and the variety you’re growing.
There may be dew in the morning making the fruits damp. Picking damp fruit is not the best, as it can cause it to mold. Wait until late morning or early afternoon to avoid this problem and only harvest on a dry and preferably sunny day.
- To pick the fruit, grasp it gently in your hand and twist, or simply use a pair of secateurs and snip the stem above the fruit. Try to avoid allowing the fruit to fall to the ground as this could bruise it.
- Gather any fallen fruits that are lying under the tree before you start picking. These fruits won’t be suitable for long-term storage without being processed and frozen, as they will quite likely be damaged and deteriorate rapidly.
- If any of the fruits you have harvested are not completely dry, they must be allowed to dry before storing. You can do this by laying the quince out in a single layer on a sheet of newspaper.
Don’t use plastic sheeting for this as this can make them sweat. Ensure that none are touching each other and allow them to air dry.
Choosing The Best Quince Fruits For Storing
If you’re not lucky enough to have your own quince trees then you can purchase them from a garden store or farmers market.
When selecting quince for long-term storage without processing (cutting up, refrigeration, freezing, or transforming into something else) then there are a few things you must check carefully first.
- Any fruits you select must be a rich lemony yellow color.
- The fruit must be perfect without any imperfections such as bruises, dents rotten areas, scratches, or moldy spots. These will quickly rot the spoiled fruit and will also start to rot other fruits around them.
- Choose large fruits, as smaller ones tend to be less pleasant to eat.
You don’t need to throw away fruits that don’t make the grade, simply wash and peel them, remove any damaged areas and the core and seeds, then chop them up and freeze them.
How To Store Quince Fruit At Home
There are a variety of ways to store quinces, from whole fresh ones through to processed frozen ones.
Storing Fresh Quinces
If you want to store your quinces fresh the way they were when picked from the tree, first go through the selection process as described above. Quince can be stored in the same way that apples are, in single layers on newspaper in crates.
Or, as I have done very successfully, on large, square, cardboard egg cartons. As these allow you to stack the quinces to about four height because of the way the egg cartons are made, the protrusions that the quinces sit on allow air to circulate freely around them.
Don’t stack them any higher than this, as the pressure on the lower quinces may damage them.
Wooden crates can be stacked as high as is safe to do so, providing that the quinces are not carrying any of the weight and there is good air circulation around them.
It’s vital that you don’t allow the quinces to touch each other, as if one goes bad, it will quickly infect the rest and the rot will spread.
The quinces must be kept in a cool, dry, dark place such as a root seller, or basement. High humidity is OK, it can even be preferable to help prevent the fruits from drying out. Keep them out of sunlight.
In good conditions, quinces can last for around three months like this.
- Prepare the storage area by killing any bugs, molds, and bacteria. This can be done by spraying it with an enzymatic cleaner. Leave this on for at least 15 minutes then wipe down with a clean cloth and hot water.
Or you can use a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda to wipe down all surfaces. Prepare this mixture in a bucket as it will fizz. Don’t use it on metal surfaces as it is abrasive.
- The space must have good ventilation that allows the air to circulate.
- The more constant the temperature, the better. It must stay below 59°F (15°C), but the cooler it is, the longer the fruits will last.
If you don’t have a suitable cool, dark place to store your fresh quince, then you can keep some in the refrigerator in the fresh vegetable boxes at the bottom. The ideal temperature range is between 37°F and 41°F (3°C and 5°C).
Here the fruits will remain fresh for a long time without losing any of their juiciness.
TIP – If you have a refrigerator that tends to build up a lot of condensation, you can place a wire cooling wrack in the bottom of the drawer first and cover it with several layers of kitchen paper and place your fruits onto that. This allows the condensation to drain into the bottom of the drawer, without contaminating your fruits. It should be emptied as often as necessary.
- Only select fruits with no signs of damage.
- Wipe the fuzz off of each fruit carefully, ensuring you don’t damage the skin.
- Wrap individual fruits in kitchen paper. This is breathable and won’t hold moisture next to the skin.
- Place the fruits in the cold draw “crisp” section of the refrigerator.
- The cooler the refrigerator, the longer the fruits will last. On average at 39°F (4°C) they will last for around 70 days.
In this video, you will see some tips on how to tell when your quince fruits are ripe and how to store them:
How To Freeze Quince Fruit
If you’re not too worried about keeping your quince whole and would like to be able to store it for longer, then preparing it into appropriate-sized batches and freezing could be the perfect answer.
- Start preparing your fruits by giving them a good wash to remove any dirt and wipe dry to remove any remaining fuzz. The reason for doing this is that the fuzz is bitter and we don’t want it to contaminate the prepared fruit.
- Now you have a couple of options. You can freeze the quince whole complete with skin, but it is still best to boil them briefly first, before freezing. Or you can peel and core the fruit and chop it into evenly sized chunks.
- You can either poach or stew the quince or freeze it raw.
- Flash freeze the quince by lining a tray with baking paper, spreading your quince out over it evenly in a single layer, and freezing overnight.
- Check the following morning that the quince is completely frozen then store in individual portion-sized bags or freezer-proof containers that are well sealed.
- Alternatively, you can make a sugar syrup, poach your quince until just tender. Once cool, add them to the syrup and store them in airtight mason jars in the freezer until required. This will help maintain their texture.
- Quince should last in the freezer like this for around 6 to 12 months.
Defrosting Your Frozen Quince
When you’re ready to use your quince, take the container or bag out of the freezer and put it on a plate on the kitchen worktop until it has thawed.
For faster defrosting, if you don’t mind the quince being of a slightly softer consistency, you can defrost it on the defrost setting in your microwave.
If you don’t need the quince until the following day, you can leave it in the refrigerator overnight.
Freezing Membrillo (Quince Paste, or Quince Cheese)
Although Membrillo will last for a long time even when not frozen, to prolong it you can choose to refrigerate it or freeze it.
Put the paste into a freezer-proof container or bag and it should remain good for up to six months or more.
Quince jelly can also be frozen in the same way. Or I like to use silicone ice cube trays and fill them with the jelly then flash freeze overnight and pop out the cubes and store them in the freezer in freezer-proof bags or a container.
Quinces can be stored much in the same way as apples. In prime condition, they last for several months in a cool dark place when handled correctly.
Alternatively, they can be refrigerated or frozen to increase their longevity. As quince is usually used cooked, pre-cooking them slightly before freezing is also helpful.
My personal favorite method is to wash, dry, peel, and core my quince, stew them in lemon water along with the peel and pips so it all turns a lovely pink color.
I also make a wonderful sauce doing the process above, but instead of lemon water, I poach them in port or sherry, add a little sugar and cinnamon then blend once cooked into a sauce and freeze in ice cube trays.
This is delicious served as an accompaniment to dark meat. Rather like apple sauce!
To discover more about this amazing fruit please see our other articles on the not so humble quince.