Enfilade

Quince, Then and Now

Posted in the 18th century in the news by Editor on May 5, 2012

Michael Tortorello, “In Praise of the Misunderstood Quince,” The New York Times (2 May 2012) . . .

Assorted quince varieties from the germplasm collection at the USDA-ARS National Clonal Germplasm Repository in Corvallis, Oregon. From top down, Van Deman, Cooke’s Jumbo, Ekmek, and Quince A, a rootstock variety used for grafting pears (Wikimedia Commons)

. . . What most Americans know about quince (Cydonia oblonga) — if they know about quince at all — is that it was once a fixture in Grandma’s garden. O.K., Great-Great-Grandma’s garden. As long ago as 1922, the great New York pomologist U. P. Hedrick rued that “the quince, the ‘golden apple’ of the ancients, once dedicated to deities, and looked upon as the emblem of love and happiness, for centuries the favorite pome, is now neglected and the least esteemed of commonly cultivated tree-fruits.” Almost every Colonial kitchen garden had a quince tree. But there was seldom need for two, said Joseph Postman, the United States Department of Agriculture scientist who curates the quince collection in Corvallis, Ore. Settlers valued quince, above all, as a mother lode of pectin for making preserves. And for that task, a little fruit went a long way.

“If you put the seeds in a cup of water, it becomes almost like Jell-O,” Mr. Postman said. This goo doubled as a pomade. (If you try this at home, please post photos.) Like so many American workers, the quince lost its job to a disruptive technology: powdered gelatin, introduced by Charles Knox in the 1890s. Unemployment has been tough. Today the nation’s entire quince crop covers a paltry 250 acres — about the size of the lawns in Central Park. By contrast, farmers this year will
raise some 350,000 acres of apples and 96 million acres of
corn. . .

The full article is available here»

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s