Quince is an interesting fruit – too tart and hard to eat raw, the fruit turns from green to golden yellow fruit when ripe and grows on small thorned trees. Quince is part of the pear, apple, and rose family, and the ripe fruit smell floral and fragrant. I am lucky to have a neighbor who has three quince trees in her yard, and she lets me pick all of her the fruit in exchange for some of the preserves I make.
Last year I made quince jelly and jam for the first time. The recipe I used called for peeling and coring the fruit, which is a mistake I won’t make again. The flesh is very hard to cut into, and the seeds actually aid in turning the preserves a vibrant orange color, so there is no reason to do anything beyond quartering the fruit before cooking.
QUINCE JELLY RECIPE: Once you’ve rinsed and quartered the fruit, put the quince in a nonreactive saucepan and cover with water, simmering until the fruit is soft. Suspend the cooked fruit and syrup in cheesecloth over a bowl, and let it drip for a few hours or overnight. Measure the juice and, for every cup of juice, add one cup of sugar. Add the juice and sugar to a nonreactive saucepan and boil until the jelly reaches setting point. Pour the jelly into hot sterilized jars and water bath process for 5 minutes for half or one pint jars. The jelly can be stored in a dark cool place for up to one year.
The remaining fruit pulp can be used to make quince jam or paste, also known as Membrillo, which is a firm paste traditionally eaten in Spain with Manchego, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese, at breakfast or dessert.
MEMBRILLO RECIPE: Strain the remaining pulp with a food mill and add two cups of sugar for every one pound of strained pulp. Simmer the mixture in a nonreactive saucepan until it is dark orange and thick enough to leave a trail when a spoon is drawn across the bottom of the pan. Grease small ramekins or a baking dish with oil and spoon in the paste.
Let them cool and then unmold, wrapping the Membrillo in wax paper. The paste will keep stored in the refrigerator for several months. Makes a great edible gift!
To serve, cut into wedges or shapes using a cookie cutter and serve with a cheeseboard. Enjoy!