I love this time of the year. There’s a certain point at the beginning of September when the air turns crisp and the boots and scarves come out of storage. Of course it’s also fall harvest with apples, pumpkins, root vegetables and one of my new favs, quince. My friend has a quince tree in her yard and I’ve been fortunate enough to be the recipient of some of her generosity.
She introduced me to this beautiful fruit about a year ago and I’ve been looking forward to this now annual tradition of making quince paste, also known as membrillo.
Quince paste is surprising quite easy to make. It has a long shelf life and is the perfect addition to any charcuterie board, especially if serving with Manchengo cheese. As a matter of fact, this combination is well known in Spain and other Latin countries.
The texture is like apple sauce while cooking. It turns into a beautiful deep orangey pink color and permeates the house with a heavenly aroma!
The perfect charcuterie board is a combination of fresh fruit, cured meats, a little carb and some dairy, and of course, something made with a little love, like this quince paste.
4 pounds quince, washed, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
1 vanilla pod, split
2 strips of lemon peel
3 Tbsp lemon juice
About 4 cups of granulated sugar (exact amount will be determined during cooking)
Place quince pieces in a large saucepan (6-8 quarts) and cover with water. Add the vanilla pod and lemon peel and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook until the quince pieces are fork tender (30-40 minutes). Strain the water from the quince pieces. Discard the vanilla pod but keep the lemon peel with the quince. Purée the quince pieces in a food processor. Measure the quince purée. Whatever amount of quince purée you have, that’s how much sugar you will need. So if you have 4 cups of purée, you’ll need 4 cups of sugar. Return the quince purée to the large pan. Heat to medium-low. Add the sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely dissolved. Add the lemon juice. Continue to cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1-1 1/2 hours, until the quince paste is very thick and has a deep orange pink color.
Preheat oven to a low 125°F (52°C). Line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper (do not use wax paper, it will melt!). Pour the cooked quince paste into the parchment paper-lined baking pan. Smooth out the top of the paste so it is even. Place in the oven for about an hour to help it dry. Remove from oven and let cool.
Store in air tight container, refrigerated.
Recipe adapted from www.simplyrecipes.com