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Quinces are hard not to miss; they resemble giant yellow pears and have the most wonderful delicate scent.  Inside their flesh is crisp almost hard which when cut discolours very quickly.  This and their tart taste can be forgiven as that same tricky flesh turns into the most beautiful pinky red colour when cooked.  This is a fruit so rarely seen in supermarkets and shops yet it has so much going for it.  Full of pectin, these fruits are fabulous in jellies and jams.  On top of which they are very versatile and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes.  Quince is often used with meat dishes.  Unlike other fruit it only takes three quinces to produce something truly delicious.

I was beginning to think that I would not see any qunices this year – if it weren’t for a tip off that some had been seen in the greengrocers in the next village.  Twenty minutes later I was on my way home with a large bag sitting on the passenger seat filled with quinces.  Oh how I long to have a friend who has a large quince tree in their garden with no use for the fruit.

I have a weakness for cheese and love the combination of a slice of cheese with something sweet such as a spoon of chilli crabapple jelly or a slice of the wonderful Dulce de Membrillo.   Anything that adds a sweet kick to the cheese is heaven for me.

Dulce de Membrillo comes from the Spanish for ‘sweet quince’.  The recipe has few ingredients; quinces, sugar and water.  Patience is needed for this simple recipe but it is well worth the effort.  The Membrillo will keep in the fridge for months.

Dulce de Membrillo

Ingredients

Quinces

Sugar

Water

Method

Wash the quinces well and place In a large pan (complete with skin) and fill with water to cover them.  Place a lid on the pan and gently bring up to the boil.  Then simmer for 40-45 minutes.  They are cooked when a knife is easily inserted into the centre.

Drain, discarding the water, and set aside to cool.  Once cool, peel the quinces and core them.  Liquidise the flesh until smooth.

Weigh the quince pulp and whatever the weight add an equal amount of sugar.

Place in a clean pan and return to a gentle heat.  Now the patience starts as the the sugar and pulp need to be stirred otherwise they will catch on the bottom of the pan and burn.  Keep doing this until the mixture becomes thick and you can see the bottom of the pan when you drag the spoon through it.

Beware of spitting because the mixture can become too hot and will spit.  Using a long handled wooden spoon helps to avoid this.

Transfer to a dish lined with greaseproof paper and allow to cool.

When cool remove from dish, wrap with fresh greaseproof paper and store in the fridge.

Note:  I made my Dulce de Membrillo with 3 quinces but I could have added less or more it doesn’t matter.  3 quinces produced for me two slabs measuring 12cm x 16cm.

Instead of putting the quinces in a pan of water they can also be baked in the oven.

 

Footnote

Quinces and quince trees seem to be hard to find and A Taste of Wintergreen posted a link on comments which sums up the problem in a really interesting article found here.

Another Quince fact is that they don’t stop at being a wonderful source of food they were also considered to be an aphrodisiac – probably the reason why seventeenth century London prostitutes were known as marmalade madams.   Ivan Day has written about the history of the quince in England with some wonderful pictures and recipes of quince – here

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