Karp’s Sweet Quince


Our good friends Nance Klehm and neighborhood fruit guru Lora Hall both had the same suggestion for our small, steeply banked and awkward front yard: plant lots of fruit trees and keep them pruned. Thus began our mini-orchard, delayed for many years by messy foundation work. One of the newest additions to the mini orchard is a bare root tree we ordered from the Raintree Nursery, Karp’s Sweet quince. As you can see from the photo above it’s just started to leaf out.

Quince (Cydonia oblonga), a tree native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East, has rich, symbolic meanings to cultures in these parts of the world. Biblical and classical references translated in English as “apples”, in most cases, most likely refer to quince (it was probably a quince and not an apple or Cheeto that Adam tempted Eve Eve tempted Adam with).

Most quince must be cooked to render it edible with way too many recipes to mention in a short blog post, everything from jams to Spanish tapas dishes. Having to cook the fruit and the tree’s susceptibility to fire blight disease means that it has fallen out of favor in the US. There are a few varieties that can be eaten raw including Karp’s quince, which the USDA’s Germplasm Resources Information Network describes:

“Grown in the Majes Valley in the province of Arequipa in southern Peru. C. T. Kennedy of the California Rare Fruit Growers received this from David Karp of Venice, California, who says it is called ‘Apple Quince’ in Peru. It is juicy and non-astringent and can be eaten fresh. Karp obtained scions from Edgar Valdivia who grows this quince in Simi Valley California, and whose relatives had brought the cultivar from Peru. The Valle de Majes is a fertile valley between 200 and 800 meter above sea level with a warm climate year round.”

Quince trees can be grown in many different climates, but the “edible when raw” varieties tend to do better in warm places such as here in Los Angeles. What little information I could dig up on the internet about Karp’s quince (also known as Valdivia quince) concerned some controversy about just how edible the fruit is when raw. Mr. Karp, if you’re out there please get in touch with me, I’d love to hear more about the story of this variety! And readers, if you’re quince aficionados, please leave some comments.

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13 Comments

  1. Excellent!

    I haven’t met Nance yet but I’m looking forward to joining her on one of her guided foraging expeditions in the near future.

    I have a quince coming later this spring from Trees of Antiquity, along with a couple of paw paws and some currant bushes. While my yard challenges are a bit different from yours, it’s exciting to think that the solution includes a harvest of fresh fruit a couple of years from now.

    Best wishes to the new mini-orchardistas!

    Regards,
    Yanna
    The 5400 Square Foot Homestead

  2. I have Aromatnaya which I really like. I have Karps Sweet quince coming from the Germplasm Repository this year. I havent been successful grafting them or rooting them from cuttings. I asked the Corvallis folks for some suggestions on how to propagate them.
    We cut them up and add them to apple pie, or bake them with a little bit of sugar. Another use is quince paste which is wonderful with a little bit of Manchego cheese.

  3. My father-in-law gave us some homemade quince jelly for Christmas this year. It was awesome. I ate it with cream cheese and whole wheat crackers. Mmmmmmm….

  4. Please email me and let me know how Karp’s Sweet quince is doing? I’m looking to add a fresh eating Quince to my little orchard and would appreciate your imput. Also let me know if you’ve tried the Pineapple Quince and how it compares to Kar’s Sweet. Thanks in advance for your help. JC

  5. Hello! I was wondering how you like Karp’s quince. I am debating in buying one from raintree. I am having a difficult time deciding between the Karp’s Sweet and Aromatanya Quince. Would appreciate any information you are able to share. Thank you.

    • Hard to say. I’ve been meaning to do an update for awhile. The tree is still small and produced a couple of fruit last year. I’ve been having a bacterial problem that causes the fruit to partially rot. I don’t think this is an issue of variety, but I don’t know for sure. This year I applied a dormant spray and we’ll see if that takes care of the problem. Also, the idea that you can eat Karp’s quince without cooking it is debatable. So, in short, I’m sorry to say I can’t really tell you which variety to go with.

  6. I ended up getting Karp’s Sweet and Russian Aromatanya Quince. I got the bare root trees on Friday. I hope I don’t have the bacterial problem. I’m in So Cal and will post update once there is something to report.

  7. Hello,
    My wife and I are trying to find a producer of Quince. She is from Switzerland and grew up on homemade Quince Jam. Every since she has moved here we have been trying to find them. We have asked many local farmers to no avail. I recently found some at a local grocer but as you can guess they were pretty expensive. We are in the mid west and would love to buy them at a little more economical price. Thanks.

    • Here in LA there are two places to get them–Armenian or Middle-Eastern grocery stores or at farmer’s markets.

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