Quince





The Quince (Cydonia) is cultivated sparingly in our orchards for

the sake of its highly fragrant, and strong-smelling fruit, which

as an adjunct to apples is much esteemed for table uses.



It may well be included among remedial Herbal Simples because of

the virtues possessed by the seeds within the fruit. The tree is a

native of Persia and Crete; bearing a pear-shaped fruit, golden

yellow when gathered, and with five cells in it, each containing

twelve closely packed seeds. These are mucilaginous when

unbroken, and afford the taste of bitter almonds.



When immersed in water they swell up considerably, and the

mucilage will yield salts of lime with albumen.



Bandoline is the mucilage of Quince seeds to which some Eau de

Cologne is added: and this mixture is employed for keeping the hair

fixed when dressed by the Coiffeur.



The mucilage of Quince seeds is soothing and protective to an

irritated or inflamed skin; it may also be given internally for

soreness of the lining mucous membranes of the stomach and

bowels, as in gastric catarrh, and for cough with a dry sore throat.

One dram of the seeds boiled slowly in half-a-pint of fresh water

until the liquor becomes thick, makes an excellent mucilage as a

basis for gargles and injections; or, one part of the seeds to fifty

parts of rosewater, shaken together for half-an-hour.



From growing at first in Cydon, now Candia, the tree got its name

Cydonia: its old English title was Melicotone; and in ancient

Rome it was regarded as a sacred fruit, [453] being hung upon

statues in the houses of the great. Now we banish the tree, because

of its strong penetrating odour, to a corner of the garden.

Lord Bacon commended quiddemy, a preserve of Quinces, for

strengthening the stomach; and old Fuller said of this fruit, being

not more pleasant to the palate than restorative to the health, they

are accounted a great cordiall. Jam made from the Quince (Malmelo)

first took the name of Marmalade, which has since passed on

to other fruit conserves, particularly to that of the Seville

Orange. In France the Quince is made into a compote which is

highly praised for increasing the digestive powers of weakly

persons. According to Plutarch Solon made a law that the Quince

should form the invariable feast of the bridegroom (and some add

likewise of the bride) before retiring to the nuptial couch. Columella

said: Quinces yield not only pleasure but health. The Greeks

named the Quince Chrysomelon, or the Golden Apple; so it is

asserted that the golden fruit of the Hesperides were Quinces, and

that these tempted Hercules to attack their guardian dragon.

Shakespeare makes Lady Capulet when ordering the wedding feast,



Call for dates, and Quinces in the pastry.



In Persia the fruit ripens, and is eaten there as a dessert delicacy

which is much prized. If there be but a single Quince in a caravan,

no one who accompanies it can remain unconscious of its presence.

In Sussex at one time a popular wine was made of Quinces. They

are astringent to stay diarrhoea; and a syrup may be concocted from

their juice to answer this purpose. For thrush and for excoriations

within the mouth and upper throat, one drachm of the seeds should

[459] be boiled in eight fluid ounces of water until it acquires a

proper demulcent mucilaginous consistence. Simon Sethi writeth,

says Gerard: that the woman with child that eateth many Quinces

during the time of her breeding, shall bring forth wise children, and

of good understanding. Gerard says again: The marmalad, or

Cotiniat made of Quinces and sugar is good and profitable to

strengthen the stomach that it may retain and keep the meat therein

until it be perfectly digested. It also stayeth all kinds of fluxes

both of the belly, and of other parts, and also of blood. Which

cotiniat is made in this manner. Take four Quinces, pare them, cut them

in pieces, and cast away the core: then put into every pound of Quinces

a pound of sugar, and to every pound of sugar a pint of water. These

must be boiled together over a still fire till they be very soft: next

let it be strained, or rather rubbed through a strainer, or a hairy

sieve, which is better. And then set it over the fire to boil again

until it be stiff: and so box it up: and as it cooleth, put thereto

a little rose water, and a few grains of musk mingled together,

which will give a goodly taste to the cotiniat. This is the way

to make marmalad.



The seed of Quinces tempered with water doth make a mucilage, or

a thing like jelly which, being held in the mouth is marvellous good

to take away the roughness of the tongue in hot burning fevers.

Lady Lisle sent some cotiniat of Quinces to Henry the Eighth by her

daughter Katharine. They were reputed a sexual stimulant. After

being boiled and preserved in syrup, Quinces give a well known

pleasant flavour to apple pie. As the fruit is free from acid, or

almost so; its marmalade may be eaten by the goutily disposed with more

impunity than that made with the Seville orange. An after taste

suggestive of [455] garlic is left on the palate by masticating Quince

marmalade.



In the modern treatment of chronic dysentery the value of certain

kinds of fresh fruit has come to be medically recognised. Of these

may be specified strawberries, grapes, fresh figs, and tomatoes, all

of which are seed fruits as distinguished from stone fruit. It is

essential that they shall be absolutely sound, and in good condition.

Dr. Saumaurez Lacy, of Guernsey, has successfully practised this

treatment for many years, and it has been recently employed by

others for chronic dysentery, and diarrhoea, with most happy

results.





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