Joan Bullock-Anderson writes:
For anyone unfamiliar with quince, it’s a hard fruit related to the pear. You can’t eat it raw, but it cooks up very nicely into a jelly or a paste (the latter is especially popular in Spain, where it is known as membrillo and often paired with their sheep’s milk cheese, Manchego). I like its aromatic smell and the beautiful orangey colour it takes on when cooked.
I don’t have a quince tree, but I first started making quince paste when I saw one of those nice ‘Please help yourself’ buckets outside someone’s house a couple of years ago. You can even eat some of the ornamental varieties – Chaenomeles Japonica – although they have two major drawbacks: 1) they have less flavour 2) they are a nightmare to peel, being much smaller! My quince paste seemed to go down well at the Burnside summer party in September 2018, so here’s the recipe.
- 4lbs (1.8Kg) of quinces, peeled, cored and chopped
- Sugar (I don’t think it much matters whether it’s granulated or caster, and the amount is worked out during cooking)
- Vanilla – pod or essence (optional: I don’t usually bother with vanilla, I think the quince has enough flavour of its own).
- Put the quince pieces in a large pan and add enough water to cover. Add a vanilla pod or a drop of essence if you like. Simmer for 30-40 minutes with a lid on, or until the quince is soft.
- Drain the liquid and weigh the fruit: note the weight, this is the weight of sugar you need.
- Blend the fruit till smooth.
- Return to pan, add the sugar and cook over low heat till sugar dissolved.
- Continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until the paste has thickened and has a deep orange colour – watch out: it gets very hot at this point and bubbles and splashes up!
- Pour into a greased / lined 20cm x 20cm baking tray and smooth out.
- Put in oven, preheated to 50oC (120oF), to speed up the setting process, for about an hour.
- Slice into manageable portions.