So, I saw these quinces in the store about a month back, and was very excited. Quinces were very popular in historical cooking, and I thought to myself, “Great! I can make all sorts of things!” Starting with quince paste, because it goes well with cheese, and I happen to love me some cheese.
As with many experimental recipes, the first time didn’t quite work out as I would have wished. So I thought, “No biggie. I’ll just get more quinces.” And the next time I went to the store, I looked. And the time after that, I looked. And looked, and looked. Nary a quince to be found, I’m afraid.
As a result, this recipe is a little more rustic than I usually like to publish, but on the off chance that you can still find quinces where you are, huzzah! I’ve since learned that one ought to boil the peels along with the fruit (in a cheesecloth bag) for their super pectin goodness, so perhaps that is also where I misstepped.
In any case, despite my moderate textural issues, whereby my paste was more of a spread, it was still delicious enough to eat with a spoon. Which I did, and it was great. Although quinces somewhat resemble very hard apples, their fruity flavor is quite unlike like any other fruit. Well worth another go, if only I could find more! ;)
Quince Paste Recipe
- 3 quinces, peeled, seeded, and chopped (peels saved)
- 2 cups raw sugar (such as demerara, or turbinado)
Tie the quince peels into a piece of cheese cloth and put in a medium pot along with the quince fruit. Cover with water, and bring to just under a boil. Allow the mixture to simmer for around 40 minutes, then remove from heat. Take the peels out and discard. Press the fruit through a sieve, then pour back into the saucepan, along with the sugar. Let this mixture simmer for around an hour and a half, or until it has turned a pretty dark red color, and thickened.
Now, at this point, you essentially have quince paste. I tried to really dry mine out in a low oven for several hours, but to no avail. Instead, I spooned it into jars, and enjoyed as-was!
For extra perusal, here are several historical recipes for quince paste, and related quincy dishes:
This is an excerpt from Libro di cucina / Libro per cuoco
(Italy, 14th/15th c. – Louise Smithson, trans.)
CXXXIII – To make marmalade of quinces good and fantastic. Take the quinces and peel and put to boil in lots of water and cook until they are come down; take a basin holed or the grater, and grate very fine that you take all that is good, and guard that the seeds don’t go into the grated quince. Save for 3 days in the air this grated mix before you put in the the honey, then for each pound of grated quinces you want to have 3 pounds of honey. Bring to a good boil together when the honeyis cooked add spices fine and if you want for the mixture, put to boil a little of sugar, for 3 pounds of quince marmalade you want to have 6 ounces of sugar in change of spices. When it is cooked tip it onto a table bathed with fresh water, and make it in the way of sheets of pasta large and just less than half a finger thick, and make in the way of wafers and put in a “albarello” (kitchen salt pot, refers to a specific storage vessel) with spices and with laurel: that it does not go bad you must boil two hours until it is cooked always stirring. This quince marmalade you want to cook always well mixed with a flat wooden stirrer, etc.
Red Quince Paste
To make the paste of a fine red, bake the quinces in the oven a long while, then peel and sift them in a strong hair-sieve; dry the marmalade over a slow fire a little while, to about half the consistency of a paste then to redden it the more, keep it a good while on a slow ashes-fire, stirring some time; and to add to this redness, put a little steeped cochineal, and reduce it on a flow fire, to a thick paste; that is, when it loosens from the Pan; put as much sugar as marmalade, or paste, soak it a little while on the fire and let it cool, just enough to work it well with the hands, and finish directly as usual.
From Borella, The Court and Country Confectioner (London: 1770)