Membrillo (Quince Paste)

Dulce de Membrillo recipe, a popular Spanish paste made from quince and served with Manchego cheese.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Ever since I started making quince jelly people have been telling me about membrillo, a quince paste that is practically the national snack of Spain when paired with Manchego, sheep’s milk cheese. Nicky and Melissa have written about membrillo, enough to inspire me to go to Whole Foods and buy some to try for myself.

Oh my gosh. If you have never tried membrillo with Manchego, get yourself to the nearest Whole Foods or other specialty market and buy some. If I lived in Spain I would eat this every day. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll see what all the fuss is about, and you may even be motivated to try your hand at making some, which is exactly what happened to me.

Membrillo

Not familiar with quince? It’s a hard fruit that looks sort of like a cross between an apple and a pear. Most varieties you can’t eat raw, only cooked. They cook up pink and have a wonderful sweet floral aroma. Like apples and pears, they’re in season during the fall.

Membrillo (Quince Paste) Recipe

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Ingredients

  • 4 pounds quince, washed, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 2 strips (1/2 inch by 2 inches each) of lemon peel (only the yellow peel, no white pith)
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • About 4 cups of granulated sugar, exact amount will be determined during cooking

Method

1 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).

2 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, blender, or by using a food mill. 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.

3 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.

4 Preheat oven to a low 125°F (52°C). Line a 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper (do not use wax paper, it will melt!). Grease the parchment paper with a thin coating of butter. 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.

To serve, cut into squares or wedges and present with Manchego cheese. To eat, take a small slice of the membrillo and spread it on top of a slice of the cheese. Store by wrapping in foil or plastic wrap, an keeping in the refrigerator.

Note: The first time I made this the top part set, but the bottom had not. To fix, I emptied the quince paste into a large pyrex bowl and put in the microwave. I cooked it on high in 5 minute increments for 20 minutes. During the last minute one of the edges started to caramelize and turn brown. This you don't want to have happen, as the caramelized parts destroy the flavor, but in this case it was a good indication that the rest of the quince paste was ready. I discarded the browned parts and returned the rest to a newly lined baking dish. Back into the oven for an hour and it was done to perfection.

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Links:

Shuna on Quince
Membrillo with cinnamon and lemon by Wendy of A Wee Bit of Cooking
Quince tart by Pip in the City
Ice cream made with mebrillo by Desert Candy
Poached Quince by David Lebovitz

Dulce de Membrillo, Quince Paste

Showing 4 of 83 Comments

  • David A Vaillette

    When you boil the quince and drain it, save the cook water! I have been using it in marinades for fish, but I imagine you could just add some sugar and heat it up and you would have quince jelly, or use it in place of pectin in other jam recipes for a tasty mix. (That one I have done to good effect. I’m gonna try grapes if I can find some wild concord grapes.)

  • Andrea

    I’ve been making quince paste for years and always simmer the quince whole first then leave them to cool on the pan before peeling and coring, purring. I then return the quince puree to the pan with the sugar and bring it to the boil before tipping it into my large crockpot and cooking it in there for 10-12 hours. Using this method it only needs a stir every couple of hours and you don’t get quince splatters on the ceiling. When it’s cooked & cooled i spoon it into silicon muffin trays. Ive never needed to dry it in the oven. Using the muffin pans you get lovely 1.5 inch deep discs that are perfect for a cheese board.

  • chelsea

    Hi there,

    I made the quince paste and have had it in the fridge for a few days but it’s still a bit soft–can I add it back to the oven to dry out more even though it’s been in the fridge? Is there anyway to salvage?

    Thanks!

  • Andrea

    I successfully set my membrillo without baking by cooking the cores in a little water, then squeezing the result through a sieve into the membrillo puree and sugar mixture. I added lemon juice but probably wouldnt again, as I think membrillo is naturally tart.

  • Ashley

    I tried this last night and it’s great! I followed the instructions (except my ovens lowest temp setting is 170 degrees, so I had to use that). After cooling it and refrigerating overnight, I found that the top set nicely, but the bottom was too soft. I inverted the paste onto another piece of parchment, put it back in the pan upside down and peeled the old parchment off the top (what was the bottom was now on top). I put it back in the oven at 170 degrees for an hour and it did the trick!!

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