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From queer taste to a tasty jam



Lemohang Rakotsoane


It is a fruit very few people like.

While it is part of the apple family, the quince, has a queer taste. It is knobbly and has an irregular shape.

When ripe it turns into a golden colour with a smooth skin.

But even when fully ripe, it still does not taste right, to most people.

It is no surprise that for most Basotho, the only use for the quince is to be used as a “weed” that is planted in dongas to fight soil erosion.

But for Palesa Teke, the quince is like the Biblical stone that was rejected by builders but which became the cornerstone of the house.

This is the fruit that Teke sees as her salvation in fighting the massive joblessness in Lesotho that currently stands at over 40 percent.

Teke, a fourth year Consumer Science student at the National University of Lesotho (NUL), says she has found a better use for the quince – manufacturing a tasty jam.

According to a website,, the quince hides something special – its unique aroma.

“If you leave a quince on a sunny windowsill it will slowly release a delicate fragrance of vanilla, citrus, and apple into your kitchen. It’s a heady, perfumed scent that is completely at odds with its appearance,” the website says.

It says if you peel a quince and hack it up, then cook it, those scents blossom into an indescribably wonderful perfume, and the fruit itself magically turns from yellowed white to a deep rosy pink.

When you stew quince in sugar and a little water or wine, it becomes not just edible but delicious and sweet.

Once the quince is cooked, it is soft and tender, usually with lovely syrup from the cooking process.

It can be eaten straight like this, or one can pour it over yogurt, or bake it into a tart, according to

Teke hopes to tap into the fruit’s positive and unknown qualities to make a delicious jam.

She is also making jam with cactus pear, commonly known as prickly pear.

“Unemployment is scary in this country and we have to think hard about what we can do to change the situation. I chose these two fruits because I saw an opportunity,” Teke says.

“They have not been explored and there is a lot that can be done with them.”

She believes the fruit can keep her away from joining the jobless heap after graduating from university.

“I took the normal recipe that Basotho women used and standardised in into a recipe that can be properly followed by anyone and to a consumable stage. I took many tests before I could get the correct measurements for the recipe.”

She adds that though more tests have been made to ensure that the product is safe they still have to make a nutritional test.

“We are just left with the nutritional tests but we already know that there is vitamin C, calcium and antioxidants. We just have to carry the tests to see the amounts left after cooking,” she says.

Teke’s hope is to see many Basotho viewing these fruits as a source of income.

“It is my hope that jobs will be created and we can grow cactus pear and koepere (quince) on a larger scale.”

thepost met Tekeat Pioneer Mall in Maseru last week during an exhibition by the National University of Lesotho where students were showcasing some of their innovative products and services.

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