The fruit looks pretty nondescript until it starts to ripen, and even when they turn the deepest of yellows, you still can eat them without cooking them first. Much has been made of the unfashionablity of the quince, but there’s few trees that give such a vivid impression of seasonality,which is why we’ve got a dozen trees (all of which are Smyrnas) planted around the edge of the daffodil paddock.
In winter, their jagged bare branches add an element of starkness to even the most controlled of landscapes. Then there’s spring, when their white/pink flowers evoke the more tropical allure of the frangipani. All up, awkward, yet awesome.
For cooking tips I defer to Maggie Beer, who has done the hard yards when it comes to popularising the enigmatic charms of quinces in the kitchen (and if you don’t trust me on that one, then I’ll leave it to Nigella to settle the score). One tip: don’t just think of quince as a dessert fruit – try them in a tagine.