Quince Paste (Membrillo)

Driving through the South Australian countryside I spotted a quince tree bowed down with fruit and decided to grab several of the bulbous, yellow orbs and make quince paste. Having never made quince paste before, but enjoyed it many times with cheese, I had little idea of the process involved and figured it couldn’t be that hard.  After a bit of research I learned that the skill and technique required was minimal, however the time dedication was fairly excessive.  The final result, although labor intensive, was and is delicious and if you are a fan of the sweet, ruby red jelly then this should definitely be on your to-do-list.  I used four quinces, which has left me with enough quince paste to last a year and (if prepared correctly) will store for that long wrapped in cling film in the cupboard.

Ingredients:

  • 4 large quinces
  • approx 1 kg (2.2 lb) sugar (total weight should be equal to cooked pulp)
  • water
  • cheese platter and crackers to serve

Quince_1_2Method:

To begin, wash, peel and core the quinces. Roughly chop and place in a heavy based saucepan. If you have some muslin cloth on hand, place the skins and core in the cloth and tie to form a bag. Place bag in saucepan. (I did not have any muslin, therefore did not use the skins and cores. It still turned out great.)

Quince_1_4Add enough water to cover half way up the fruit and boil, covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until fruit is very soft.  Remove muslin bag and blend fruit until smooth.

Quince_1_5 Weigh the fruit pulp and combine equal quantities of the pulp and sugar to a clean saucepan. You should have around 1 kg (2.2 lb) of fruit, therefore you would add 1 kg of sugar.

Quince_1_6Cook, stirring over low heat until the sugar dissolves.  Continue to cook over a low flame, stirring every 5-10 minutes until the paste is very thick and a deep, ruby red colour.  At this stage a wooden spoon drawn through the paste will leave a distinct trail.  This will take approximately 1 1/2 hours.  Transfer the paste to a baking tray lined with greased baking paper and smooth out.

Quince_1_3The next step is to dry out the paste, which will leave you with a firm, moisture free final product.  You have several options to dry out the paste.  If you have a fan forced oven you can turn the fan on with no temperature set and leave the paste in the oven over night.  You could also set your oven to a low temperature, approximately 90°C (190°F) and leave the mixture in for several hours.  Or leave in the sun for several hours, or an airing cabinet for a few days. Whichever method you choose the paste should be firm once cooled and not too moist or sticky. If you find it is still sticky, you can dry it for longer. Slice the dried quince paste into squares, wrap in cling film or baking paper and cling film and store in the fridge or cupboard until needed (it will last at least a year). Serve as an accompaniment to cheese on a platter or melt down and add to cakes and tarts.

-alex