It was a big quince harvest at Tulipwood this year. We make a lot of quince jelly every year, but I always long to dream up new and creative ideas for how to use all of these quinces. There have been years we have been so overwhelmed that we’ve sold them to the local health food store because we had all the jelly we could give away and eat for a year. In the past I have done some experimenting. This year I made a few different recipes, including one that I think would make a wonderful Homemade Gift: Quince Membrillo.
The quince fruit is the only member of the genus Cydonia in the family Rosaceae. It is a deciduous tree that bears fruit similar in appearance to a cross between an apple and a pear, and is bright golden-yellow when mature.
Quince has to be cooked in order to be edible. It cooks down quickly and turns a blush color at first and then turns a deep red as it cooks further. It is both sweet and tart with a fruity floral fragrance.
We used an old iron rake to get the fruit from the very top branches. It was a very big success.
We also drove our big cart extension to the lawn mower because these babies are heavy to pull in a regular wheel barrow.
You may notice some brown spots on the quinces. This is a blight that we battle a lot in New York State. We haven’t quite figured out what to do about it because we use organic pest control and it doesn’t seem to work well. We have heard some people spray their fruit every week to keep it at bay but that seems like overkill to us, not to mention expensive. If you have any tips and experience on how to prevent this blight I’m all ears!
Back to the membrillo, Spanish for quince paste. Quince paste is a gourmet specialty and in Spain it is eaten with Manchego cheese.
You’ll often see it on display in the cheese shop next to the Marcona almonds as well as the Manchego cheese.
Since quince comes into season just in time for the holidays, and it’s delicious in both sweet and savory winter dishes, I thought it would make a great gift.
It took a lot of trial and error to perfect this recipe, it really got frustrating at times! But I think we’ve got it just about perfect now. And I love how these little packages of delight turned out.
I used a muffin tin to create personalized sizes rather than creating a big square pan full of it that I then had to cut. I also used plastic candy wrapping paper to seal it and then over that added butcher paper and twine.
To finish it off, I added the official Tulipwood sticker with the woodblock print of the original house that my great-grandfather lived in.
Before my godfather left for Spain, I made this for him as a send off. He in turn, brought some membrillo back from Spain and we tried them side-by-side. Everyone in the room said they liked this recipe better than the store-bought version from Spain! I was honored, all that hard work paid off. Give this a try, I think you will love it!
Have you ever cooked or tasted quince before? Tell us in the comments or tag us on social media using the hashtag #modernpioneering.
- 2 pounds quince
- 3 cups sugar (equal parts sugar to quince puree)
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 tablespoon for every cup of puree)
- Peel whole quince and drop them in a sauce pot whole. Cover with water and lid and bring to a simmer. Cook until fork tender, about 40 minutes.
- Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and cut the soft flesh away from the core with a knife.
- Add all of the flesh to a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy.
- Measure the puree with a measuring cup back into a sauce pan. Add an equal amount of sugar as puree.
- Bring to a simmer and stir until all of the sugar is dissolved.
- Add the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon for every cup of puree.
- Continue to stir occasionally for about an hour and half until the mixture is viscous, dark red and very dense. Keep it on a low heat and continue to stir it occasionally. The instinct will be to remove it before it has cooked enough so really let it go.
- Line a small baking pan or muffin tin with parchment or plastic and grease with cooking spray or butter. Spoon in the mixture and tap the pan against the counter to help it distribute evenly. Smooth the top with a knife.
- Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is a thick paste that stays together in a ball. The mixture should seem stretchy and almost dry. The fruit will change color and become a bright orange-red.
- Pour into a lightly oiled container and let cool.
- Slice when firm or if in tins, gently pull out with the plastic.
- Fruit paste will keep for several weeks, covered, in the refrigerator.