Quince (membrillo, in Spanish) comes into season just in time for the holidays, and it's delicious in both sweet and savory winter dishes. Quince paste is made the same way as quince jam, by cooking the fruit with sugar. Quince has a lot of natural pectin, and as the water boils away, the fruit forms a sweet paste that can be sliced. Quince paste is often served with cheese and crackers (especially in Argentina, where this appetizer is known as el martín fierro), but is also used in many pastries.
Quince paste is a gourmet specialty that can be purchased online, so you can enjoy it all year round.
- 2-3 quince
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Approximately 2 cups of sugar
- Pinch of salt
- Peel and core the quince. Cut into large wedges.
- Place fruit in a pot and cover with water. Add lemon juice.
- Bring water to a boil, and cook fruit until very soft. Drain and let cool for 5 minutes.
- Process fruit in a food processor or blender until smooth, like applesauce.
- Measure fruit - you should have around 2 cups - and place in a heavy-bottomed pot. Measure 3/4 of that amount in sugar (so if you have 2 cups, add 1 1/2 cups sugar), and stir sugar into the fruit.
- Bring sugar and fruit to a low boil and simmer, stirring frequently, on low heat.
- Cook slowly, keeping the mixture barely at a boil and stirring often to prevent burning, until mixture thickens.
- Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is a thick paste that stays together in a ball. The mixture should seem almost dry, and stretchy. The fruit will change color and become bright a orange-red.
- Pour into a lightly oiled dish and let cool. Slice when firm. Fruit paste will keep for several weeks, covered, in the refrigerator.