The skin of the immature quince is green and covered with soft, gray fuzz that disappears as it ripens and turns yellow. The firm, strongly perfumed flesh is known for its tart flavor, astringency produced by tannins and high pectin content.
Due to its natural chemical components, the fruit turns golden to red when cooked. Its medicinal properties may enhance digestion, aid in weight loss and help lower blood cholesterol.
Fresh fruit – Newly harvested quince may be purchased whole by weight for the home larder. The raw fruit is also sold in slices garnished with a pinch of sea salt, dry chile powder and a squeeze of fresh lime juice as a snack food.
Cajeta or Ate de Membrillo – A dense jellied paté made of cooked quince formed into solid bricks or molded into decorative shapes. Available in the chunky martajada style containing bits of fruit or a smooth paste concocted with juice pressed from the cooked fruit. Sliced ate is often paired with slices of fresh panela or other types of cheese as classic Mexican dessert.
Ponche de Membrillo - Sweet fruit cordial made from quince, sugar and aguardiente or sugar cane alcohol.
Pastries – Quince makes a delicious filling for all sorts of pies, tarts and turnovers. Look for fresh-baked pastries coming out of ovens set up on site at the Atotonilquillo fair.
Preserves – Jars of conserva, cooked quince slices preserved in heavy syrup, may be served as a sweet course, used to garnish for meat dishes or employed as a cooking ingredient.
Speciality items – Local folk take advantage of Expo Membrillo to introduce new concepts in quince by-products. Over the years creative cooks have employed the fruit to concoct flavored yogurt, frozen sherbet, tamales, soda pop and beer.
The quince is considered an ancient ancestor of the apple, widely associated with matters of the heart--fertility, love and marriage. Some scholars label it as the infamous “forbidden fruit” of the Garden of Eden. Among the ancient Greeks the quince was linked with Aphrodite, the goddess of love, and customarily presented as a ritual offering at weddings, used by the bride to perfume her breath before entering the bridal chamber.