Thinking of putting in one or two heirloom quince trees. Is there a market for them at the farmers markets? If so, what are the best heirloom varieties and what problems do they come with? Thanks all for the help!
The only way I’ve seen quince marketed anywhere is already processed into preserves (in jars). I certainly wouldn’t buy them raw and have never seen them sold at farmers markets anywhere.
They make great preserves though.
They’re really popular in Turkish and Russian communities, where the fruit is sold frequently in groceries stores there fresh. A Russian friend of mine just visited my orchard and saw my loaded quince tree and she totally lit up wanting them, because it’s something not available here but loved in her country. Not sure if there are any cultural communities where you live, but that might be your best bet. But also they like the varieties for fresh eating, OneGreenWorld and Raintree sells them.
I read comments on Facebook from a grower somewhere in Oregon (I think it was Willamette Valley). I cannot remember the details since it was more than a year ago but he had a lot of quince trees (surely it was more than 100) and was harvesting tons each year. If I remember correctly most went to alcohol, probably preserves too. The preserves are really delicious, the best I have had.
Restaurants sometimes use them in sauces, chutneys, and such. I would ask the staff at places with creative menus.
It depends on the local population. I used to see it in some stores in the Cleveland area growing up. My Armenian and Hungarian cousins have some kind of tart they make that vaguely resembles sweet potato pie in appearance (not color). Don’t remember what it is called. It was always served at holiday meals. Perhaps you can find an interested bakery?
quince fruit leather is the very best. so maybe a niche?
I live not far from DC and this area is heavily populated with people from all around the world. That is why I thought it may have some interest since I have not seen them anywhere.
Sounds as if only the newer varieties are desirable. Are the heirlooms no good? I have never eaten a quince and was looking for another product at the farmers market that no one else had.
People mainly from Eastern Europe would not care so much about the cultivar, as their recipes would accommodate many varieties. Quince are a rare find here in Portland OR, but my single tree and its hundreds of pounds are easily given away to Craigslist contacts. No money in that! I think there is more disease pressure back east for quince also.
The quince ripen later than the farmer’s market season around here.
My neighbor, who likes making jams, canning, pickling, etc., has 2 quince in his backyard here in Arlington. This is their 3rd year in the ground I think and they each had 8-15 pieces of fruit on them at the start of the season. As I’ve watched them over the summer I’ve been surprised to see a fair number of bug issues and some rust or other disease on most of them. Between squirrels and those issues, I think he’s down to only a couple left. I’m not sure when they’re ripe, but hopefully he gets those last ones to try. I was surprised since they are so hard I thought they would be like my Harrowsweet and Seckel pears that don’t have too many troubles. But neither he nor I really spray (I do a little surround in spring), so maybe it is an easy fix and quince just need a little protection to do okay.
In terms of interest, I know he said he has seen them at one of the farmers markets in town (probably either Courthouse or Columbia Pike) and they sell out. I think they’re only available one or two weekends. Since they sell out I expect people who like them are on the lookout for them each year or maybe even alerted via an email newletter, etc. that a lot of the growers seem to have. If I see him around in the next day or two I’ll ask him about it.
If you have restaurants or even cafes that do seasonal creative specials, try contacting the chef during slow hours. My husband is a chef and they ordered quince at his restaurant last year and made amazing puff pastry quince tarts. Better than apple crisp. It makes my mouth water just remembering they sold out of them quickly and sadly could not find anymore quince to buy after that first batch.
I know you mentioned farmers markets. The chefs i know try to get to the markets here but are often too busy. Contacting them could be a good option to gauge interest.
A Latina gal knocked on the door today, she recognized the fruit and wanted some to make membrillo. There is Hispanic interest in quince.
Still 2 or 3 weeks away from being ripe here.