Membrillo (Quince Paste)

Jams and JelliesQuince

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

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 not yet 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.

dulce de 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.

Make Membrillo with Quince

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 zest (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 Boil the quince in water with vanilla pod and lemon zest: 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).

boil quince for membrillo boil quince until soft for membrillo

2 Make quince purée: 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.

puree boiled quince for membrillo

3 Measure the purée: 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.

4 Heat purée to dissolve sugar, add lemon juice: 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.

add sugar to quince puree for membrillo

5 Cook on low heat until thick and dark pink: 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.

cook puree for quince paste cook quince puree until rosy pink

6 Put in low oven to dry: 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.

dry quince paste

Place the membrillo paste in the 125°F oven for an hour or longer to help it dry out. (If you have a convection or fan setting for your oven, use it.) Remove from oven and let cool.

7 Serve: 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:

Quince Jelly here on Simply Recipes

Quince Jam here on Simply Recipes

Quince Tart Tartin by David Lebovitz

Rosy Poached Quince by David Lebovitz

Dulce de Membrillo, Quince Paste

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Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

More from Elise

110 Comments / Reviews

No ImageMembrillo (Quince Paste)

Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Ghislaine.

    I just tried the recipe, I had to add pectin powder diluted in a few tablespoon fulls of the cooking juice of the quince I had not discarded yet as a retrofit option, as even with a muslin bag of all the quince pips included and the lemon rind it was not going to set any time soon, checking with the cooling spoon test I usually do with jams and jellies. Fortunately I found one pectin product you could do that with (Special Ingredients Premium Quality Natural Pectin Powder as I do not have a microwave oven for health reasons. The 1 1/2 hours were needed to get to a thick fromage frais/smooth cottage cheese consistency. Once pectin in and brought back to a rolling boil for 1 minute, then cooled down for 10 minutes, I poured it in a dish lined with parchment paper at the recommended thickness on a low fan assisted oven setting of 100oC with the oven door ajar for 1 hour on one side with a rest of 1/2 day and another hour on the other side to get 3/4 there in the drying. It is now resting at room temperature with a tea towel on top to finish it off for a couple more days and it looks very promising. So far it tastes just like the quince “pate de fruit” I was given when I was little and living in France. I enjoyed the scrapings from the sides of the pan before washing it ! what a trip down memory lane ! I have another 2 batches to make, I may try the jelly with the second one and blanch/freeze the 3rd for later use, as it is said that quince freezes well.

  • Brian in Umbria

    I made this deep in the umbrian hills in Italy from a surprisingly large crop of Quinces this year. it is a perfect consistency. I did wrap all the cores with pips in a muslin bag and suspended this in the fruit boil and i think it may well have contributed to a very firm set.
    Great recipe and thanks

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Tim in Srattle

    I made this….it is delicious!
    I am not sure how firm it is supposed to be. Mine turned out easily spreadable, more firm than jam,

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Paul

    The amount of sugar appalled me but having ordered quince—and seen that this goes with manchego (a cheese I was already planning on serving) off I went—but with 3/4 of the called for sugar. I also cooked the sugared puree at ultra-low heat for over an hour and a half which did away with the oven time for drying (although it left a stove and floor spotted with quince goo) which may have been prevented by using a fry-type screen. This a.m the membrillo was nice and firm and sliceable leading me to think I could probably get away with one less cup sugar—or half the called for amount. And yes, it is delicious. Now I wonder if there are any molds for this?

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Sarah

    We never freeze or refrigerate it. Keeps perfectly well wrapped in baking parchment and stored in the pantry.

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