WEEDER'S DIGEST

Quince Paste

Joan - Burnside

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.

 

Ingredients

  • 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).

Method

  1. 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.
  2. Drain the liquid and weigh the fruit: note the weight, this is the weight of sugar you need.
  3. Blend the fruit till smooth.
  4. Return to pan, add the sugar and cook over low heat till sugar dissolved.
  5. 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!
  6. Pour into a greased / lined 20cm x 20cm baking tray and smooth out.
  7. Put in oven, preheated to 50oC (120oF), to speed up the setting process, for about an hour.
  8. Slice into manageable portions.

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