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Do yourself a favor; DON’T go to Whole Foods or any place like that. Where you want to go is the nearest Mexican Supermarket and ask for it there.
looks like a good paste, and easy way to make the paste without the mess of the pot is in a slow cooker over 12 hours, coat the quince pieces with the sugar, stir occasionally once its changed colour, stick blend to form the paste and put into jars
As well as making the membrillo (Irasagar in Euskera or Basque) “jelly” in a pan in the oven, it’s possible to make quince leather by spreading the cooked, simmered puree onto food dryer sheets.
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.)
Great idea David!
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.
Thanks so much for your tips Andrea!
Hello Andrea, I have made quince paste several times, the first time was my best. I think I will try your way this time, I have my quinces ready to pulp, did you use the lowest setting on the crock pot? Do you know why some recepies call for lemon or/and lemon rind? Is it to help it set? Thanks Jenny
Hi Jenny, this may be a little late but I use my current slow cooker on its low setting as it runs quite hot and it may burn. I think that the lemon is to add extra pectin. I’ve never needed it but think that some fruit sets naturally better than others – I’m not sure if that’s due to ripeness or variety.
I made a huge batch last week and ended up trying to set some into a silicon loaf tin. The muffin sized ones were perfect but the loaf size didn’t set as well. It’s wrapped in paper and sitting on the bench to see if it will dry out. Its still good – just harder to slice nicely. Hope your latest batch went well :)
I have also made this for years and have never dried it in the oven. I pour into small ramekins to make it round and allow it to air dry for about a week. It never attracts any insects/bugs. Give it a go!
Oh and I should have said – leave the lid of the crockpot offset so that the steam can escape. This helps to dry out the paste.
I’m in need of help I made a huge batch of quince. Started out to be marmade but ended up changing to paste due to not turning the right color so i threw in the crock pot let it siimmer ok n low for he’s then put in the blender then cookered in crock pot for a couple more he’s and it just stayed a mush is it suppose to do that I was told by someone to strain the liquid from the mush so I did I think I alsdo put to much sugar in I have more quince I can add to it please I’m in des operate help I have a farmers market I’m going to it’s my first time there can someone help me put the mess together I’m in desperate need of help
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?
Hi Chelsea, sure, I don’t see why not!
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.
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!!
Hi, I have been making quince paste for years. You can make it from any kind of quinces, the decorative small ones that grow on bushes (Japonica species) or the tree ones (Chinese). If they are small and rock-hard, I just quarter them, take out the seeds (they may be slightly toxic inside), cook the pieces in a small amount of water to prevent burning, and when soft put them through a food sieve. Then measure the pulp by weight or volume, add a bit less sugar, and cook, stirring, till it seems done as above. Some quinces change color, some don’t. Germans spread the paste out to dry, cut it into small diamonds/triangles/squares, coat with coarse sugar, and serve as a Christmas ‘candy’. I eat it with cheese and give to friends.
Actually if you add couple seeds while cooking, they will give red color to the paste.
Since Hubby is from Uruguay I got hooked on membrillo. It’s a tradition there that when it rains you make torta frita, fried dough, and have it with cheese and membrillo. Yum. I have been making membrillo for about 25 years. Thought I would try your recipe. For our taste there was too much sugar and couldn’t taste the quince, so I just added more quince. I just bake mine in the oven stirring occasionally and when it’s got that beautiful deep rich color I pack it in freezer containers and freeze it . Lasts forever. But then again we always run out because it’s so good.
Help! My quince paste will not set, and I have used all my bumper crop this time. I cooked them in water whole as I could not face the peeling and coring. I then pushed it all through a sieve ,with most of the pips, so I should have enough pectin. Simmered it in a preserving pan on the Aga for over two hours, it went the lovely dark colour, but it wasn’t coming away from the side of the pan, so I put it in the oven as suggested, but it is still unset. Should I leave it to dry, and for how long or should I put it all back in the pan and try again.
Hi Jo, hard to say. You might try emptying it into a pyrex bowl and microwaving for a bit as I describe at the bottom of the recipe. Or just leave it in the oven longer to dry out more.
Thank you so much for including your fix for your first-batch failure. I had the identical problem and it worked like a charm. I would have hated to give up on this; have been waiting for several years for our first crop of quinces!
I’m simmering the quince right now and am bothered at the thought of pouring off the water afterwards. Any way to use it? I don’t even throw out potato water. Maybe I’ll make some bread and use the quince water that way. That’s where most of my potato water goes. Any suggestions?
Loved this recipe and have made it 3 times now. I also didn’t like the idea of chucking the water so I made the water into a jelly. Added the same amount of water as the weight of the liquid. Cooked until set like jam. Then put it with the vanilla pod into jars I had sterilised in the oven . Only makes two jars but tastes delish:)
Hi Astrid, Love the idea of making jelly! You could also add some sugar to the quince water and add some soda water for a an easy quince spritzer.
I think Astrid meant “added the same amount of SUGAR as the weight of water” when she described making quince jelly. You add almost cup for cup sugar to water, for quince jelly. Just a typo I am sure.
I boiled the quince/vanilla/lemon water until it became a syrup and added it back to the paste – delicious!
I love makeing it then putting it on vanilla ice cream the smell alone brings me back to grandmas house i also make quince and hotpeppers lasts years in my fridge love it i could survive on it alone and water maybe some argentine beef and coffee life is great but short remember you cant buy your health savor life love it
I’ve made membrillo before with just quinces and sugar, but did not use oven or microwave to firm it up. This time I am trying your suggestions of lemon and vanilla as added flavorings. I’m sure that one of the problems with quince paste not setting is in discarding the peels and cores. That’s where most of the pectin is, which is what firms it up. Instead, as others have suggested, put them in a cheesecloth or muslin bag and cook them with the quinces. (Or just leave them on and use a food mill or seive to separate them).I too have had problems with getting the rosy color. It just turns a rosy brown, but still tastes great.
I am currently making this recipe and it’s looking beeyootiful!In the oven right now, beautiful rosy rust color. I have two 8×8 pans about 1.75 inches high.
I still have another 15 cups of quince to use up (!) so I’m planning on making quince jam & jelly tomorrow.
I think next time I make the membrillo I will do the slow cooking stage in a slowcooker so I don’t worry about overcooking or burning. And I can do other things in the house while cooking it down….I’ve had great success with making fig jam (and others) in the slowcooker.
I discovered this recipe (membrillo paste) last year and tried making it but all I got was membrillo jam. It tasted great but the beautiful orange/pink color never developed. I found the quince at a Mexican Supermarket. The quince were quite green and even after letting them sit in the kitchen for 2 weeks, they never turned yellow.
This year I found someone in the neighborhood with a quince tree who was more than happy to share the fruit with me. The quince had ripened on the tree which made me think that this would make a difference. Some of the quince were yellow, some yellow and green, some small and some large, some wormy some not. I hauled a box full home and anxious to get started.
I made 5 batches in all. The first was the membrillo paste. I followed the recipe to the letter but found that I had to cook it longer and dry it longer in the oven. Then I set it out in the sun for an entire afternoon. Then a couple of days in the cupboard. After about 2 weeks it had dried out where it was firm enough to slice.
Then I made 3 batches of quince jam following Elise’s recipe to the letter. It was so easy and a bit less time than the paste. Now I have 2 dozen jars of quince jam in the pantry.
My last was the membrillo paste again. But this time I did something different. I saved the peelings and the cores, put them in a cheese cloth bag and put them in to cook with the quince pieces. When the quince pieces were cooked, I discarded the cheese cloth bag and it’s contents. This was a tip that I found in one of the many blogs that I’ve researched. Then I continued with the recipe. It cooked much faster (1 hour)and turned color quickly. It went into a low oven for an hour. It set beautifully. It sits here in front of me on the kitchen island as I type where it will continue to dry overnight.
Great tip – I just wondered are you talking about adding the cheescloth bundle to the boiling water stage or the puree stage? Many Thanks
Useful recipe. I’m going to adapt it for use with japonica fruit, which, incidentally, I think are shown in your photo (actual quinces being rather longer and knobblier). These are too fiddly to peel and core, so I just boil and seive them. Quinces are quite hard to get in the UK, although it is possible to “borrow” a few from the orchards of some country houses where they don’t actually use them (the same being true of medlars). Japonica fruits are pretty interchangeable with quinces and are found in many suburban gardens, although, once again, most residents don’t use them. I got hold of a big bag through my local free recycling scheme, so it’s probably worth posting a request if you have freecycle, freegle or similar in your area.
Sorry! Some folks who have difficulty finding quince can do so at any Asian food market in your area. Found mine at H-Mart supermarket bordering philly and cheltenham township(Montgomery county). Bit pricey maybe about $2.69 each but I don’t mind as I love exotic foods. Tried my membrillo today with goat cream cheese and snack crackers that I purchased at Trader Joe’s, maybe next time i will try with mascarpone. Anyone wants to take the taste challenge. If you find the courage. Please let me know the outcome. Thanks.
Quince are a seasonal fruit, pretty much only available in the fall. ~Elise
Hey, y’all. Found the recipe in a meditterranean cookbook I have. It is very tasty. Try with any form of goat cheese. Also makes a lovely juice that can be added to escoveitch (I am from the caribbean u see) fish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Additionally add to your favorite sweet wine. I use a juicer to extract the juice and I combine with golden delicious apples. Place in refrigerator. When ‘must’ subside to bottom and a clear liquid is at top, use a ladle and pull juice out. Add to your favorite wine. ENJOY. Taste great with Moscato or Pinot grigio. You are free to experiment with other wines of choice, Or just serve the juice at dinner. So much different from regular apple juice. Eat well.left over ‘must’ can be added to pancakes, while residue from extracting juice can make a cake.
I have been looking for a recipe to make a fig paste, what I envision is similar to the quince membrillo but with figs. Have you tried this? Do you think it is possible to just substitute?
Guess I need to start work and experiment.
Quince have a lot of natural pectin, so when making the paste, it firms up before it gets to the point of caramelization. I think if you wanted to do something similar with figs, you might need to add some apple or commercial pectin. ~Elise
I made a quince paste using honey as the sweetener, I did not measure, just tasted. Also used the microwave to reduce, and then dried in slow oven and also in sun. I spread it thinly it came out like a leather, quite chewy and very tasty.
I would love to find the quince that you can eat raw… I am in South Australia.
I haven’t heard of any quince that can be eaten raw. The ones I know of are too astringent! But who knows what exists out in our big wide world that we are now more connected with!
…in my excitement at tasting success i didn’t thank this site & all the contributions!
without your advice, options & motivation there would’ve been no membrillo in my particular larder!!
just tasted my xmas cheese …membrilliant!
this is my 3rd year attempt & had given up hope on getting it right, but had one last go & it worked!
all those who say above that its easy must be either very lucky or incredibly skilled? yes its simple techniques but it takes a long long time of concentrated getting everything right.
very much worth while & reward for each step well done!!
my recipe: 3 large & well ripe, smiling quince shredded whole.boiled (pressure cooked) until soft with enough water to avoid any burn.pureed in processor, then boiled (pressure cooked)again until the bitty bits are consumed.
equal amount of sugar added & a little lemon juice.simmer as close to jam temp for as long as i dared! (i don’t think my temp was as hot as would be prescribed? jam thermometer let me down perhaps as it never read higher than 80C?)
turned out onto greaseproof papered tray & left in oven on ‘s’ for 2 hours, turning 1/2 hourly (as my oven is ‘variable’!)
cooled & fridged …set & deep red smooth set.hoooraaay!!!
Love your site, and recipes Elise! I am making the Membrillo as I type, and am about 1hr and 10 min into the cooking time of the pureed Quince in the saucepan. So far the mixture hasn’t turned pink, any thoughts? Also, while boiling it took much less time for them to get fork tender…. I possibly cut the pieces a little small, but I was surprised when I felt them about 15 minutes into cooking and they felt ready. Thanks so much! :)
I think sometimes it takes a good bit of time for the quince to turn pink. I’ve made quince preserves that never really did turn pink, so the color is a bit of a mystery to me. ~Elise
I live in Switzerland with my Spanish wife, and we often visit Spain in summer. My neighbor, (also Spanish) makes membrillo a bit differently. After the quinces are peeled and cut into chunks, she simply cooks them as is, without any water. There is enough water in the fruit already. She doesn’t add any lemon, as the pectin/acid balance of quince is already good as is. After the quince is soft enough, she uses a hand food blender to make the purée. Then she adds the sugar (350 grams per 500 grams of quince) and cooks it over low heat for a good half hour. Keep it covered, as it is like thick oatmeal and will splash all over the place. Just pour this mix into a container and let it cool. If you do it this way it will gel every time and there is no baking involved. Enjoy!
I loved this way of making membrillo. So wonderfully simple. Worked a treat, in a very short time. No drying out, no problems with gelling. Quite tart, but I like that. Next batch I may try a little more sugar…..
Loved this method. It came out perfectly! I tried a second batch cooking the chopped, cored, unpeeled quince in a crock pot on low. Took about 7 hours and made an easy recipe even easier! Pureed the cooked quince and added sugar as per chris’ comment and came out perfectly again. Definitely my go-to method from now on!
Quinces are very hard to peel and cut up, so it is much easier if you first either boil them for a short time, or bake in a slowish oven, as you might a cooking apple, until they are as soft as you need them. I made a good tarte tatin this way, using Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recent Guardian recipe, using quinces instead of apples or pears.
Ever since I was a child there has been a quince tree somewhere close by. The first one being one my grandparents planted in the early 1900s. Just like Sue, we knew where the road side ones were as we moved around.(probably the same trees) I have always made quince jelly. Wash the fruit, no need to core and peel, cut into quarters and cover with water. Boil until the fruit is very pulpy.(an hour or so) Strain all of the pulp through muslin over night and then add as much sugar as you have juice ie. cup for cup. Boil gently until a small amount sets on a saucer. Pour into jars and put it somewhere where you’ll see the sun shine through it. Lovely with cold meats and cheese.Or a dollop on scones with whipped cream!
Hi there,Thanks for the recipe! Years ago I lived in Mexico and remember eating Membrillo and then when I moved to New Zealand I discovered a quince tree on our farm. I made quince paste last year and it was great but last night something went wrong and it never changed colour and is as hard as anything today. It was good to read a few other entries here of people who had problems and it sounds like I overcooked it. Will try again as I still have a few quinces left! Cheers, Suzanne
Just found your site and loved reading the comments from all the different countries. I have had a passion for quinces for years. when I was a child the farmers pulled out the quince trees as there was no demand for the fruit. Such a shame . It then became very hard to find any. When I was a young mum my husband each year would bring me quinces from a very old tree that grew on the roadside. They were like gold to me! A few year ago I took some cuttings from that same tree and one of them has grown into a beautiful tree which I have just picked 10 kilos of fruit from. I love your recipe It is similar to mine. I love the sound of the one with walnuts also! Greetings from New Zealand.
Kia Ora Sue! How wonderful that your cutting developed into a full tree. I love quinces but didn’t know anything about them until a friend of mine (in his 70s) made me quince jelly from fruit from his tree. And then I remembered I had had a quince tree in my backyard in San Francisco and never once did anything with those fruit the whole time I lived there. What a shame it is that we as a modern culture have just about forgotten these trees, and the delicious fruit they produce. Cheers, ~Elise
Thanks Elise! It never did change colors and I cooked it for 5 hours as I actually had 5 1/2 cups of puree. It made a 9×13 pan. Might not be as pretty as yours, but it’s still delicious! Thanks for sharing the recipe!
Question: I have had mine simmering for two hours now and it has not changed colors. Any ideas on why that may be? I’ll come back when it’s finished, as I guess there is nothing I can do about the color! It’s making the house smell wonderful though!
I think it changes color only during the last stages. ~Elise
If you are interested in growing your own quinces, the botanical name of the tree is Cydonia Oblonga. They are lovely fruit trees, not to be confused wth the equally lovely, but completely different, “flowering Quince” Chenomeles.
I have been helping my auntie make Quince Jelly for many years so I thought I would tackle the Dulce de Membrillo this time. It’s very expensive in shops here in England (mainly Spanish/Portuguese delis plus WholeFoods and Waitrose) so I would never dream of buying it and will feel very smug if I can make my own! I have had such fun reading every single comment here, I feel like all these quince-lovers are my friends!
After a quick scan through the topic, and the replies I set about making the jelly and the paste at the same time. I had success with quince jelly two years ago but my paste was a disaster. This is what I did this time:
Core and peeled 12 quince (that is all I had from our garden).Cooked the quince in a pressure cooker for about 15 minutes then mashed the resulting pulp.
Now comes the “clever” part. I poured the pulp through a fine mesh strainer (6″ diameter), gently helping it through with the base of a ladle. Put the pulp to one side. Ran the quince juice back through the washed strainer, not forcing it this time, and put the residue left on the strainer back with the pulp. The first forced filter was designed to get the maximum flavour out of the quince, the second run to just get the clear liquid.
Now I put the clearish liquid in one pot (to make jelly), with 3/4 the volume of sugar, and the pulp in another pot with an exactly equivalent amount of sugar. I am not sure why I chose those ratios of sugar – probably after reading too many quince recipes on the net.
Lightly boiled both mixtures. Tested the jelly mixture using a cold saucer. I found that the colour was a good indicator of the state of the mixture. The deep red colour came on quickly, after about 20 minutes of boiling, and the saucer confirmed that the mixture would set. Poured the hot jelly mixture into a single sterilised jar and left it to cool. The other pulp mixture continued to cook gently and went through the red phase, but had still not reached the “pulls away from the side of the pot” phase. Cooked until it became that beautiful deep colour shown in the photographs with the article and then poured the rapidly thickening mixture into a silicon tray mold.
We tested the jelly a couple of hours later. A little sourish but beautiful with cheese. The 3/4 by volume sugar ratio was just right for me but my wife would have liked it a bit sweeter. As for the membrillo, the 50/50 sugar mixture got the thumbs up from both of us. It dried out beautifully overnight on the table and we ended up with three 3″ x 1″ blocks which taste fantastic.
Because I was cooking a relatively small volume the whole prices took less than two hours. The sieve shortcut I used certainly speeded things up. I also recommend the silicon mold.
Next time I may experiment with the lemon juice and vanilla.
I moved to Argentina a few years ago, I have two quince trees in my yard. The first year I gave away all the fruit, not understanding what I could make from them! Now, no one gets any of the fruit, (except my mother-in-law). I live in a very rural farm area, complete w/hornos, none of the farm ladies here have modern ovens or microwaves. We use a rather simple method to make the paste. Boil the cut up fruit (peeled & cored). Drain. Return to pot, mash, add sugar, cook till pink and smooth, anywhere from 30-40 min. Place in tupperware/rubbermaid type container, cover w/plastic or a plate, leave to set for a day or two in cool place. Then turn the ‘membrillo loaf’ over, & let set in container another day or so. I was amazed at all the recipes that said to cook in the oven. Everyone I know here uses this method w/out problem. Though, there is rarely any left over to save for long periods of time, I did save some (just to test) for almost a year, sealed, in the refrigerator, was a little dry, but still tasted great.
I recently made some quince paste but it is too hard, so it doesnt spread easily onto biscuits and is tough to cut. What did I do wrong? Undercook/overcook…It is still delicious though and I have found microwaving a small piece before serving helps.
Sounds like it got overcooked. ~Elise
I have wanted to make membrillo for a while but can’t seem to find quince. Does anyone know a place that will ship to NJ? Also, how long will this recipe hold for in the fridge?
Quince is in season in the Northern Hemisphere in September/October/November. By January I doubt there are any remaining quince to be found. The recipe can last a month and longer in the fridge. I have some I bought at Whole Foods (didn’t make a batch this year) that I’ve had at least a month and is still good. It’s like solid jam, the sugar acts as a preservative. ~Elise
We have a quince tree, and are still eating the quince marmelade from last year, so when this year produced 7 lbs fruit I looked for other options.
This recipe is great – I made two adjustments. First, as noted by another commentator, I matched the quince puree by weight with sugar. The other is that (having a canner and 1/2 pt jars), I kept the paste on the stove-top (stirring continuously) until I got a good set in a test in the fridge, then put it in sterile jars. I expect it will keep at least as well as my jams (which run only 25-30% sugar).
My daughter work at a winery in Napa Ca where there are lots of Quince trees. She brought me about 60 pounds of this stuff. I have had great fun making Membrillo. Since I had so much, the blisters were abundant after just a short while of the standard peeling, cutting, and coring. I had to re-think the whole thing. Unless you want the fruit to stay in some sort of shape for a tart or other thing, baking is the way to go for Membrillo!
After washing, put them in baking pans at 300F till very soft when pierced with a fork ( about 2 hours). Almost caramelized. Careful not to crisp them, covering with foil helps.
If you scrub the fuzz off very well (using those scratchy body scrub gloves works like a charm. Of course a new pair, not what you have been washing your body with), you do not even have to peel them. The skin gets so thin and soft it can go right in with the pulp. I cool them until able to handle, cut off the ends, cut in half, use a paring knife to cut the outsides off the center seed area. The fruit is so soft it is almost mush. You can get a huge pile going without having to worry about them turning brown this way. Into the food processer. No need to add water. Process into a thick cream. Yum! I did not add much sugar, the fruit was sweet enough. Did not encounter any problems due to low sugar.If you do not have a processer, the cooked fruit is so soft you can use a hand mixer.
Next into a heavy bottomed big fry pan with fitted lid. The wider bottom of this type of pan, makes it cook faster. But it is still a slow procees for sure.
I made some more tradidtional with lemon and vanilla. Then got bored, so I started looking online for variations and couldn’t find much at all.
So I used some of those spice mulling bags with a draw string on top. I put whole Cardamom pods in one and then hit it with a hammer to break the pods up. Into the pan with that one. In another pan, I did the same with Lavendar. Note. With the bags you must squeeze the bag to release the flavor after about an hour. Just use your spoon to squash it against the side of the pan. What delicious interesting flavors.
I will be giving this away over the holidays.
I am basically a lazy cook. Short cuts like the ones above, saved me time, hassle, injured hands, and used the most fruit possible.I pretty much eyeball and taste my way along. Not much of a measuring type so you will have to figure out your own amounts.
Anybody else experimenting? Love to read about it.
1/28/18Hi, I live in the Napa Valley as well, and I’m able to get quince from my gardeners, who work for a winery as well. But since their family makes quince paste every year, they obviously pick the best fruit for themselves and give me the ‘not so much cream of the crop’, which works well for my purposes, but would rather have some whole and wholesome looking stuff, rather than picking and slicing trough brown spots and over ripe rot. So, if you have some extra fruit you are not planning to use next year, I’d be happy to drive ‘down-valley’ and take it off your hands!!
I love quince paste as a dessert with cheese, Manchego or goat, and crusty bread, but the supply, until the last two years had been limited, so i decided to solve the problem by planting my own trees. I will ultimately end up with seven, one of which is presently only 5′ tall and the rest have just been planted, so my hope for quince fruit is still far in the future.
My problem right now is that I did everything according to the recipe above, and seemed to have succeeded beyond my expectations, until this morning when I went for a slice, and found the bottom of the molds I used as soft as the simple jam I have made every year, because I never hoped to achieve the perfection of the quince paste my grandmother and aunts made in industrial quantities for the entire family back in Mexico! Being of European extraction, they probably had a long tradition in making and storing the stuff which, after a long process of cooking, stirring and some splattering over arms, face and walls from the hot bubbling goop, the end product was placed in fanciful tin molds, and dried under the hot sun in the huge patio of grandma’s house. One of the most cherished memories from my childhood is precisely that time of year in the Fall, when the house was full of cousins playing, while mothers giggled, schmoozed, gossiped and told jokes to each other in the kitchen, and the air all over the house was heavy with the wonderful aroma of the cooking quince!
In any case, this year, with a bit more fruit than usual, I decided to ‘go for the gold’ and attempt to come up with some sort of paste, even if not quite as perfect as the one my family made; but much to my chagrin, after two days of long hard work, of stirring for hours, and oven drying, I found my worst fears realized: the top of the paste is set… the bottom… not so much!
Now I’m wondering what to do next. There are so many methods detailed on this blog, and ultimately so much conflicting advice (no baking, no adding water, peeling and coring fruit, vs. putting the whole fruit in the pot; cooking in slow cooker, crock pot… etc. etc.) that in the end I am more frustrated than when I started. I decided to follow the visual lesson of a certain Brit and young wife, by the name of Mrs. Maclean, on Youtube!! The woman does not seem to shed a drop of sweat or even ruffle her hair…. and still ends up with the perfect paste, even while cooking the pulp in far less time than I did!!
My husband, who is an engineer well versed in thermo-dynamics and comes from an Iowa farming family, wholly vegetarian, wholly organic and fanatically food canning and preserving, thinks that the secret to achieving a solid paste is in reaching the right heat temperature and the right amount of sugar (which I carefully put in, although I hate because in the end all one tastes is SUGAR!!), and I tend to believe him. Although I have not seen on the replies here anyone highly concerned with that aspect of the cooking process, other than making vague suggestions.
My questions in the end are as follows:a) What do I do with the stuff as it is now, set on the top but soft on the bottom?b) Is it at all possible to cook the paste with a lesser amount of sugar, and if so, will it set?c) Do you think you’ll have enough fruit for your own usage, as well as to share next Fall?
I am not at all into experimenting with exotic flavors or spices ultimately, since my objective is to re-create the traditional ‘Cajeta de Membrillo’ my family made yearly, albeit with less sugar.
Finally, the easiest method would be to actually buy the ‘Cajeta’ as I remember it, already made with perfect color and perfect consistency, in the premier Mexican products market in Napa, ‘La Morenita’ of course. Unfortunately… I’m not sure I trust the ingredients they put into it, although it does look pretty!!Thanks
Hi Tee, you may have to unmold them, and then put them back into the oven mushy side up, to dry out further.
As for sugar, I haven’t tried making this with less sugar, though quince does have a lot of pectin in it, and there may be enough natural sugar in the fruit to help it all set.
I know you are answering someone else’s comment here, but that original comment is several years old, so I don’t know if the original commenter will see it. Good luck with finding quince! Sometimes you just need to know someone with a tree.
From Spain: When you buy quince, keep the fruit between bed linen, in the wardrobe. This fruit smell very good, and scent your robe. Here in Spain it’s a old custom. Kisses
After reading this post I just had to get some quince paste frome whole foods (I also wanted to try makeing quince vanager-kind of like the stuff in Mario Batali’s Baboo cook book). I have to say that the quince paste I found at Whole Foods must really be homemade like it says: the box does not say how much it contains or have a date! I wonder: does the kind you can buy from whole foods need to be refridgerated?
I would expect that the membrillo you buy from Whole Foods would likely keep better and longer in the refrigerator, but you can always ask someone there. ~Elise
I just happened upon your site as I was looking up membrillo. Thank you for that good clear recipe. After reading everyone’s comments, I urge everybody who can’t find quinces in their grocery (usually in the northeastern U.S. they’re only available in October & November), if you’ve got any yard at all, plant a quince tree! They’re self-pollinating so you only need one. They are a small-sized tree, so you can reach most of the fruit without more that a 6-foot ladder, and the flowers are lovely, white with a blush of pink. Similar to apple blossoms. Honey bees like them. I don’t put any spray or any poisons on mine, so I do get some insect damage, but since I always cook them, I don’t care. Miller’s Nursery in Canandaiga, New York is where I got mine. Don’t buy a “flowering quince” bush by mistake; it should be a fruit tree! Quinces used to be a door-yard tree everywhere; perhaps their day has come again.
Hi Elise :)
I love your site very much, I have tried a lot of your recipes.
As for this I put the quince purée with the sugar. It began to stick into the pot! and even satarted to burn:(
Did I do something wrong?
Sounds like the heat was too high or the pan too thin. You should use a thick-bottomed pan, and gradually increase the heat of the purée. Also, make sure the sugar you are using really is sugar. Sometimes people use sugar substitutes which completely throws the whole thing off. ~Elise
That happened to me also. Are you supposed to ;ut the suger and the quince back in the pot with the water in it?
I was in Spain recently and saw membrillo everywhere. Didn’t eat any myself, however. I was introduced to something like it years ago by my Cuban brother-in-law, which was pasta de guayaba (guava paste) paired with queso blanco. You can buy both at any good Mexican market. Those two together are now a customary treat at our family’s holiday get-togethers.
Hi Cindy – I love the idea of boiling down the quince water to make a flavorful syrup, brilliant! I think the quince paste probably will keep up to 2 weeks in the fridge. We are just finishing up ours and it has been almost 2 weeks.
Just to note about use by dates, I made a big batch of ‘pate de coing’ (I live in France) last year, its still good in the fridge and I get it out whenever we get a nice aged comte from the market. Theres no mould & nobody has gotten ill from it (touch wood!), so its a great thing to make to store in the pantry/fridge :)
Thank you so, so much for posting this recipe! I just recently started seeing quince for sale locally, and I love membrillo. It’s one of those things I always thought would be too hard to make, but I just finished making this and it came out beautifully. I cooked the blended quince and sugar for quite a while to make sure it gave up a lot of liquid — it was a deep red and quite thick when I finally took it off the heat. I also used less sugar than called for, since I don’t like it to be too sweet. It set beautifully.
I reserved the liquid from cooking the pieces and made a lovely syrup by cooking it down with some sugar in a sauce pan. It made a nice addition to some squash for dinner this evening, and I think it would work well with lamb. I love the unique flavor. I’ll have to have a party this week to use up all this membrillo, though. I may have missed this in earlier comments, but how long will it keep in the fridge? Thanks again.
From Portugal (next to Spain), – where we use quinces a lot, with roasts instead of potatoes, for ex., I send you a recipe with the quinces fall-overs.Wash well the fruits before peel them. After the peel, reserve the peels and also the cores. For 1/2 kilo, boil them in 1 litre of water till it’s cooked. Then, strain the water (you can also used the water where you cooked the quinces for the membrillo – in portuguese marmelada), and add for each litre 1 kilo of brown sugar and boil till you get a paste sugar point. Put in jars, before cool. It will give you a jam with a wonderful colour, it’s delicious with cheese and crackers, to glaze cakes and tarts, to eat with bread. And you can store it for years.We call that geleia de marmelo.
We have a healthy quince tree on our property in northern California…sad to say, the fruit mostly goes to waste (or at least I don’t get to see it) because it ripens in autumn when I can’t go there to harvest it. Sometimes I can get my sister to mail me a few so I can savor their lusciousness.
I like the cooked fruit just plain (I cut them up and pressure-cook them) or mixed with cranberry-orange relish. At our 5,400 foot elevation, we do need to cook them quite a long time!
They are in the rose family, with a lovely white flower, and the fruit has a texture a lot like an insect-injured pear…that same stony texture–but all the way through the whole fruit! But the flavor and aroma are well worth the work. A photo I took in August 2007 of leaves and fruit is the last photo posted in my St. Helena gallery at http://www.pbase.com/moorruth/st_helena
Membrillo is the name of the fruit in Spanish, Quince in English. What you call “membrillo” is what in Spain we know as “dulce de membrillo” (sweet quince), and it goes well with any strong cheese (not only manchego, there are well over 150 different types of cheese in Spain).Another very simple way of cooking quince, absolutely delicious:
Bake the quinces in the oven, for about 2 or 3 hours, temperature 125ºC, and then eat them cut in halves with sugar on top. Check that they don’t get too brown, if they start browning, just cover them with tin foil.
Someone very special used to cook them like this for me on the long, rainy autumn weekend afternoons…Enjoy them.
I love membrillo. If you are looking for other ways to use quince–this is a perfect fall meal, and fantastic:
Fennel and Garlic Crusted Pork with Warm Quince and Apple Compote(adapted from Williams Sonoma—so delicious!)For the pork:1 small head of fennel with 2 inches of fronds attached, coarsely chopped½ cup chopped onion6 cloves of garlic chopped or thinly sliced1 heaping Tbs of fresh thyme (or 1-2 tsp dried)1 heaping Tbs of fresh rosemary (or 1-2 tsp dried)1 heaping Tbs of fresh sage (or 1-2 tsp dried)1 heaping Tbs of fresh oregano (or 1-2 tsp dried)2 tsps fennel seeds1 ½ tsps coarsely ground pepperOne 4 ½ pound pork rib roast tied, or 5 center cut pork chops (my preferred method)Coarse salt to taste.
1. In a food processor combine fennel, onion, garlic and process to a semi-paste. Add all herbs and pepper, pulse to combine.2. Season pork with salt, and rub fennel paste all over. If using chops, cover each side with paste. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 8 hours.3. Preheat oven to 350. Place pork in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until internal temperature is 150 degrees. Let rest 15 minutes before removing twine and cutting into chops. If using pork chops, place in a 9 X 13 pan (I line it with foil for easy cleanup) and cook at 350 for 20 minutes, or until done. Serve with compote.
Quince and Apple Compote
1 large ripe quince, peeled, cored, and cut into ½” pieces2 large firm tart apples (macintosh, rome, or corltand), peeled, cored, and cut into ½” pieces2 Tbs butter2 TBS sugar½ cup apple cider or apple juice1 tsp lemon juice½ tsp ground gingercoarse salt to taste
In a skillet, melt butter over low heat, sprinkle sugar into melted butter. Raise heat to medium, stir for 3 minutes, until sugar melts and is carmalized. Add quince and cook for 3 minutes, add in apples, and cook for another 7 to 10 minutes until apples are soft. The quince dice will retain their shape. Add cider/juice and lemon, and cook until reduced, but not evaporated, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and ginger and serve. I find it even better the next day.
I lived in Chile for a year and a half. For breakfast and dinner every day, I ate membrillo and cheese on their french bread. The cheese is similar to provolone. Awesome stuff with cheese.
Those wonderful Turkish kind of quinces, yeni dunyalar if i am correct, my late grandma used to put a bunch, as it was the custom in south-east Europe, on top of the wardrobe, for they make the room smell nicely and they can stay good for months when the room is not too warm. There on the south, they are believed to be powerful declarations of love and passion.My memory is blurred, but my grandma used to boil them with the skin and core together for something, I guess jelly, because those parts have the most pectin, so the jelly is very firm. How was she removing those from the prepared jelly, I have no idea :(
This kind of quince paste, we usually (using a very similar recipe) put between two thin sheets of pastry (I don’t know the English word, we call it “oblande”, it is sth like ice cream cups, but flat), while it is hot, and press them to cool down. Then it can stay for months in a cold room. It tastes just great when you add chopped walnuts to the cooked paste, before it cools down.
:D Sorry for the long writing, but I was so inspired … Enjoy the autumn!
I would add that if you want to lower the sugar you can make the “poaching” liquid beforehand by cooking all the cores, peels and pips (all the dicard after the prep, basically) in a syrup made from 2 parts water to 1 part sugar. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about an hour, strain, and use this liquid to cook quince in.
At the restaurant I use a poaching liquid made from white wine because I don’t like cooking fruit in straight sugar syrup. The cheesecloth bag method works, but if all that fruit discard is floating free, you’ll get a lot more flavour, pectin and then you can reduce the sugar.
Thanks for the link! Maybe you’ll get to SF in time to taste my quince dessert…
You can eat them raw and it’s my favorite way to have membrillos! They taste fantastic sliced with a little freshly squeezed lemon and orange juice, and sea salt. If you’re up to it, sprinkle on some chilli. Pick the ones which are yellow, as those are the sweetest ones.
I tried making membrillo this summer when I got my hands on some quinces but it never set properly. I’m guessing I didn;t use the proper amount of sugar.
Actually I did weigh the quince mush and the sugar and they had pretty much the same volume as well as weight. Sometimes I think it is just a difference in European versus American methods of cooking. In Europe they are used to weighing ingredients, especially in baking. It’s certainly the most accurate way to do it. In America, unless you are a professional chef, most people are more comfortable measuring by volume. Everyone has a cup measure, not everyone has a kitchen scale.
The other thing that can affect the set is the amount of pectin. Quince naturally has a lot of pectin, but if you want to get more, you can put the cores into a muslin or cheesecloth bag and add it to the quince mush while it cooks.
For those wondering about whether quince can or cannot be eaten raw…there is at least one variety that can be eaten raw. Most are best eaten cooked though.
I made a batch of membrillo earlier this month for the first time and had no troubles with it setting up. I did weigh the quince puree and added an equal weight of sugar however. Maybe that makes a difference.
Quince also makes a great addition to apple crisp.
The Brazilian version of the Membrillo/Manchego partnership is Goiabada (a similar fruit paste, made out of Guava) and Queijo Minas (or Requeijao – a kind of white, creamy fresh cheese). We call it “Romeu e Julieta”. It is the number one national dessert. If you ever go to Brazil, make sure you try some!
Hi John and Reyyan – there are some varieties of quince (I have heard of these in Turkey) that can be eaten raw. I have yet to see such a variety grown here in the U.S.
What do you mean you can’t eat quince raw? My family has been doing it for years! With a sprinkle of salt, its tart, but great. In fact, back in Mexico, it’s accompanied with a shot of tequila. Sliced raw, it’s served in bars. My late mother also regaled us with stories of raw quince being one of her pregnancy cravings.
I love quince! We actually eat them raw here in Turkey just like apples. I am not sure the California variety but the ones in Turkey are juicy, not too sour and a little mealier than some of the ones I have tasted- definitely making it more pleasent to eat raw. It is also told to help with digestion when eaten raw.
Reading the comments posted makes me wonder if I am in the wrong profession this time of year. My parents own a rice farm just north of Sacramento, and they have at least half a dozen quince trees full-to-the-brim of fruit, as well as numerous other fruit trees. Funny, growing up with these fruits, I thought everyone was familiar with them; strange to know some have never heard of a quince before. I do make quince jelly every year-along with pomegranate-now i have a new project. I wonder if canning the membrillo is possible (great variation on regular jams and jellies for Christmas gifts). Thanks for the recipe Elise!
We were introduced to Manchego a couple of years ago and fell in love – I had never heard of quince until your posting here though. I might have to give this a try. Any suggestions on where to find it? Do you think Safeway (Dominicks for those of you in Illinois) will carry it or is this more of a Farmers Market and/or Trader Joe’s kind of thing? Thanks for keeping the new ideas flowing!
Note from Elise: I’ve never seen quince in either Safeway or TJs. But, just this week I saw them at Whole Foods in Sacramento. And a farmer at our local farmer’s market has some.
Quince is used in many preparations here in Catalonia (north-east of Spain). My mom does this paste with quince, lots of garlic and a little olive oil. It is great with beans, meat (specially if it is grilled and has strong flavour, lamb), and on top of bread with slices of good tomatoes.Just boil the quince as Elise did but without the vanilla and lemon, then puree it with garlic (up to your taste), and olive oil (not too much, my mom is like Elise’s and never measures anything).
It is really great and it has lots of vitamin C, perfect for the season. It also keeps well in the fridge, covered, for a week.
Although my sisters and I entertain ourselves by singing a hilarious song of our grandmother’s containing the lyric “And Jane said I looked like a quince,” and I spent a summer in Madrid eating manchego at every opportunity, I never actually tasted quince until this past weekend. (My puzzled husband looked at the sticker on the fruit and said “Quince? Like fifteen in Spanish?”) I poached it, and it was divine. Quince paste was going to be my next experiment, so this recipe is very timely – and served with manchego, serrano, and crusty bread sounds like a great Thanksgiving appetizer!
How do you know when a quince is ripe/ready to use? I recently discovered a small quince tree in our backyard and I have never used the fruit because I didn’t have any recipes (now I do!) and I didn’t know when they were ready to pick.
Note from Elise: Like apples, quince when they are ripe will practically fall into your hands when picked. They should be completely yellow, though there may still be tinges of green. They will also have a strong floral aroma.
It’s fabulous stuff, isn’t it? Your note at the end interested me. I too thought the jelly was set before it was and very nearly wrecked all my work. The microwave sounds like a great idea. :)