Ripening Guide

Learn more about the many fruits of Toronto's Urban Orchard

Quince

Quince resemble knobbly, yellow apples, and they’re known for their lovely floral scent. They’re a rare fruit in Toronto, so they’re quite a treat! Unripe, they’re green, with a white coating. As they ripen, they’ll turn yellow and lose their coating. They might also develop an orange ‘blush’ on their skin.

  • September
  • October

How to tell when quince are ripe: They turn yellow and come easily off the tree (or start falling). Up close, they’ll smell sweet and floral. Quince will ripen off the tree, so don’t worry if you’re a little bit early.

When to submit a pick request: We’ll need some advance notice to schedule your pick, so please submit a fruit pick request 3-5 days before your fruit is ready. A good time to do this is when the quince are a very pale green, almost yellow.

Picking tips: When picking, lift the fruit slightly and gently twist. If it’s ripe, the stem will gently snap off. If you have to tug at the fruit, it’s not ripe. If you need to harvest early due to frost, cut the stems with clippers.

Eating tips: Most varieties of quince are too hard and tart to eat raw. Peeling and chopping raw quince can be difficult, so be careful. Cooking turns them into a beautiful pink colour, and develops the flavour into a sweeter, more apple-like taste. In Spain, a jelly-like paste called membrillo is made of quince and traditionally eaten with Manchego cheese. Quince makes great jelly, sauce, and pie. It’s also used in Middle Eastern and North African savoury dishes.

Storage tips: Quince bruise surprisingly easily, so handle gently and do not stack them. Store in a cool, dark place, away from other fruits or wrapped in paper towel to keep the aroma from infiltrating other foods.

Pruning Tips

Make sure to only prune quince in the late fall or winter when the tree is dormant. Don’t wait until spring or you may lose your crop for the year! This is because quince only produces fruit on the tips of new growth.

Quince need a lot of sunlight, so make sure you clear your branches of the 3Ds: dead, damaged and diseased wood, and follow the CAC rule: remove any crossing, acute, and clustering branches. More details on technique can be found in our Pruning 101 post.

Aim to keep your quince tree shaped in a vase or goblet style. This shape keeps the centre of the tree open, exposing more of the tree to sunlight. If your tree is well established, the main focus of your pruning should be on clearing the centre of the tree and keeping it tidy. This means removing any vertical branches in the centre that ruin the open goblet shape. Older branches that aren’t budding or show little growth can be trimmed back completely.