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Monday, November 7, 2011

Quince: A Forgotten Fruit

Fresh Picked quince with the fuzz (down)  still on the fruit
Quince is one of those fruits that you find yourself attracted to because of its beautiful shape or color, and its floral scent, but rarely know what to do with.  It is the only fruit of its kind in its genus, but resembles an apple or pear.  Ripening now in fall, it takes a little time to prepare, but its worth the effort.  Preparing quince for eating requires baking it, coring and peeling, and cooking it down into a jam or paste.  Or if making it into a paste, then baking it again to dry it out for something called membrillo.  Membrillo is a Spanish quince paste that is served with yummy Manchego and Garoxta cheeses.  It is similar to fruit pate that you find in France or a kind of drier or stiffer jelly that you can slice.

I thought the cores looked beautiful in my compost bowl so I took a picture of them.  Look at the color of the jam.  It is so different from the original fruit color and the final reddish brown color (almost) when it turns into the paste.   I suppose you could eat it like apple sauce in the jam state.  Or cook it up to a higher temp and let it set in jam jars, but this recipe from Ireland is my favorite preparation.  Make it on a cool day when you don't mind having the oven on and when you are home working in your home office or on a weekend when you don't have to be anywhere.  It has a glorious smell in the house so you won't mind as it bakes away. Happy Cooking!  Tricia

Quince Cores
Quince cooking into a jam

Quince Paste

2 Loaf Pans or 9 X 12 baking dish

Preheat oven to 200 degrees

With a cloth, rub down the quince fruit and take off all of the down on the skin.   Place into a baking dish and cover with a lid or tin foil.  Do not add any water.  Cover and place in the low temperature oven for four hours or until the fruit is easily pierced with a knife.  Quarter and core the fruit, removing any blemishes.  Put through a food mill (chinoise) using the biggest disk.  (This would be a good time to buy one if you don't have one)

Weigh the pulp and add 3/4 pound (1 3/4 cup) of sugar to every pound of pulp.  Cook in a preserving kettle over medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spatula until the mixture is rich in color and it stops running together again when the spatula is drawn through.  

Line the loaf pan with parchment paper, fill with the paste and leave overnight to get quite cold.

The following day, dry out the pan of paste in the oven at 200 degrees for about 4 hours or until quite firm.  Check the past is ready by lifting a corner.  It should be solid all the way through.  When the paste has cooled, cut into four strips, wrap in parchment and store in an airtight container.  It will keep for about 4 months, but is best eaten when freshly made, cut into1-inch squares, as a sweetmeat.

Recipe from Ballmaloe Seasons by Darina Allen

The finished membrillo 

1 comment:

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