Quince paste, especially a homemade version, has a place in everyone’s fridge in my humble opinion.
Quince is something I often associate with my Grandparents. It feels a little old world, doesn’t it? Given we spend less and less time in the kitchen, we seem to have forgotten what to do with it. Sadly, it’s not a fruit we see a lot of these days and most certainly not in the supermarkets. You’ll find them at your local fruit and veg store though and at farmers markets when in season.
How to use quince
There are only two varieties of quince that can be eaten raw and they’re generally not those we can buy. The rest lend themselves to being cooked and take on a pear-ish flavour when they are. Quince is very high in pectin making it perfect for jams or recipes like this quince paste (also known as quince cheese, membrillo and dulce de membrillo).
In Korea, quince juice is boiled down to make a tea. It also makes delicious tarts or pies for dessert (just use like pear).
What are the health benefits of quince?
Quince has been cultivated since about the 6th Century BC and has been used both as a food and medicine.
It’s an excellent source of fibre, and is also rich in polyphenols and antioxidants. Recent research suggests a quince extract – prepared like tea – may have mast stabilising / anti-allergy properties too (1).
Historically, quince was used to improve digestion, to aid lethargy and much more. A great all-round food as medicine for sure.
How to make quince paste
This isn’t very difficult to do, but it does take some time. It’s a great project for a cold and rainy weekend.
Peel, core and chop quince into 3cm chunks (about 1 inch). Place the pieces into a large heavy-based saucepan full of water as you chop.
Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Leave to cook for 1.5 to 2 hours or until soft when pierced with a knife.
Strain off the water then transfer the cooked quince to a blender. Add in the honey and blend until a smooth paste forms. In a Thermomix, this was speed 6 for 10 seconds.
Pour the puree back into your heavy-based saucepan and put it back on the stove over a low-medium heat.
If you would like a spreadable quince paste – simmer for 1.5 hours ensuring you stir the mix frequently to avoid burning it. Once done, this will look quite thick and you can stand a spoon up in it momentarily, but it will tip over,
If you would like a quince paste you can cut through – simmer for 2 hours to really reduce the puree. Again, you will need to stir it frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn. Particularly towards the end. You will know this is ready because it becomes a little more difficult to stir and you can stand your spoon straight up in it without it falling. It will also change to a gorgeous shade of dark pink/salmon.
Line a 20 x 20cm (~8 x 8 inch) square dish with baking paper, pour in the cooked quince puree and leave to set in the fridge overnight. If you cooked the puree for two hours – you should be able to cut through it.
Quince paste will last for months in the fridge. I actually make the firmer batch to last us for a full year! I chop it up into squares – usually the size I want to serve on a cheese board – and store it in a container in the fridge. It keeps best if you place a piece of baking paper between each square so they don’t stick.
On one occasion when I’ve made the version I want to cut through it hasn’t set. This is telling you that the quince puree has not been cooked down enough. The stove being too low or taking the mix off too early are the two big culprits there. Easy fixed though, all you need to do is scrape it back into the pan and keep reducing it. I’ve done this up to three days after I first made it and it still works out just fine.
What can I serve quince paste with?
For a completely delicious snack serve this with cheese, cashew cheese, nuts or just nibble on it as is. Do you have any other favourite ways to enjoy it? Let me know in the comments.
If you’re looking for other recipes to pop onto a cheese board you might also like my lacto-fermented fig, cinnamon and honey butter. Enjoy!
Quince paste (dulce de membrillo)
- Large heavy-based saucepan
- 20x20cm (~8 inch) Square dish
- Baking paper
- 1.3 kg Quince
- 550 ml honey (roughly 1 jar and ¼ cup)
- Peel, core and chop quince into 3cm chunks (about 1 inch). Place the pieces into a large heavy-based saucepan full of water as you chop.
- Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer over low-medium heat. Leave to cook for 1.5 to 2 hours or until soft when pierced with a knife.
- Strain off the water then transfer the cooked quince to a blender. Add in the honey and blend until a smooth paste forms. In a Thermomix, this was speed 6 for 10 seconds.
- Pour the puree back into your heavy-based saucepan and put it back on the stove over a low-medium heat.
- Simmer for another 1.5 to 2 hours stirring frequently (see step four above that outlines the difference in cooking time. Briefly 1.5 hours will yield a soft, spreadable quince paste. 2 hours yields one that can be cut into).
- Line a 20 x 20cm (~8×8 inch) square dish with baking paper, pour in the cooked quince and leave to set in the fridge overnight. If you cooked the puree for 2 hours – you should be able to cut through it.
- Quince paste will last for months in the fridge. I actually make the firmer batch to last us for a full year! Cut into the shape and size you'd like to serve on a cheese board before putting it into a container to store in the fridge. It also keeps best if you place a piece of baking paper between each square/thick slice so they don't stick.
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