You’ve probably heard of pomes or pome fruits, but what exactly are they? Here we’ll explore what a pome is in detail, as well as the most prevalent examples, and then dive straight into some of the uses and recipes we consider both delicious and interesting.
What fruits are pomes?
Commons examples of pome fruits are:
- Asian pears
- Crab apples
Pome meaning: what is a pome fruit?
A pome is a fruit produced by flowering plants of the apple subtribe (or Malinae) of the rose family (or Rosaceae). The most noticeable characteristic of all pome fruits is the fusing of its seed-producing parts (the carpels) into a fibrous core.
Apples and pears are the most well-known pome fruit examples, with countries across the world boasting their own regional varieties. Quinces, medlars and loquats are other varieties that, while less common globally, have fluctuated in popularity over time and are still eaten frequently in some regions.
Difference between pomes and citrus fruits
The primary difference between pomes and citrus fruits is that citrus fruits (oranges, kumquats, lemons, etc.) are a kind of berry, known as hesperidium, due to their thick rind and extremely juice interior. Pomes, on the other hand, cannot be classed as berries because of the tough tissue that separates the seeds from the outer fruit.
Pomes: all the uses
Pome fruits have a high pectin content that makes them well suited to jams and jellies. They also tend to be quite acidic, sometimes bitter, making them well suited to flavourful vinegars and alcoholic drinks.
While raw pome fruits are generally fit for human consumption, many varieties are considered too insipid, sour or bitter to eat. Some of these trees are cultivated solely for ornamental purposes or to feed surrounding wildlife.
Others, such as quinces, rowans and crab apples, tend to only be consumed in cooked or fermented forms. For example, as well as jams and jellies, they are commonly used in regional alcoholic drinks, adding flavour to everything from beer and cider to liqueurs and country wines.
Here we’ll cover the uses for various pome fruits, with specific recipes to follow.
Uses for apples
Apples are the quintessential pome fruit and undoubtedly the most well known. They can be used for things like:
- Apple cider
- Apple vinegar
- Apple juice
- Infused vodka
- Apple butter
- Apple sauce
- Apple barbecue sauce
- Apple salsa
Uses for pears
Pears can be used for:
- Pear vinegar
- Perry (pear cider)
Uses for quinces
Quinces are generally too hard to be eaten raw but can be used for:
- Quince cheese (actually a type of jelly)
- Quince pudding
Uses for medlars
Medlars are noteworthy for being effectively rotten before they become ripe to eat. That is probably the reason why they have fallen out of favour with modern palettes. However, they are still used for:
- Medlar jam
- Medlar jelly
Pome fruit tips and recipes
Want to explore the pome fruit list above in more detail? Check out some of Fine Dining Lovers’ best pome fruit recipes and useful pome fruit tips below.
Apples are beloved the world over, whether enjoyed in classic dessert recipes like apple strudel, apple scones, apple crumble, and, of course, apple pie, or as a complement to savoury dishes like steak or potato latkes. But whatever you’re making, you need to make sure you choose the right kind of apple for the job.
So if you don’t know the difference between a Granny Smith and a Golden Delicious, or your McIntoshes and Braeburns, click here for the ultimate guide to apples and their uses.
Pears are another star of both savoury and sweet plates, but even by fruit standards, their window for being perfectly ripe is very short indeed. So whether you like them crispy or soft, learn how to preserve pears to your taste with this guide to canning (or jarring) them in syrup. It’s much easier than it sounds.
Alternatively, you can just use them immediately in one of these delicious autumn dessert recipes. They include crumbles, soufflés and even vegan panna cottas.
Cooking with quince requires perseverance and patience, according to Milan-based food writer Holly Cole, who shares her tips on working with this well-known yet mysterious pome here, as well as recipes for quince jelly and quince syrup. Both will soon become staples of your future dinner parties, with the former complementing any cheese selection and the latter elevating even the simplest of desserts to a gourmet standard.
That just leaves the forgotten medlar. If you live anywhere between Germany and Iran then you’ve probably seen one of these peculiar-looking pomes before. Whether or not you realised they could be eaten is another matter entirely.
As already mentioned, medlars are effectively rotten before they’re ripe, meaning they’ve fallen out of favour with modern palettes. However, they were once very popular, having been cultivated since Roman times. If you have managed to lay your hands on some, or are lucky enough to be able to source them nearby, then try David Lebovitz’s recipe for medlar jelly as an easy entry point into understanding this neglected fruit.