Up until this past week I had never had Quince, but this time every year I always get intrigued by the many posts extolling the virtues of this elusive fruit. I headed off to Leeds Kirkgate Market, which is normally pretty good, hoping to track down myself some fruit but none of the greengrocers had it, one hadn’t even heard of it, he just gave me an odd quizzical look making me feel stupid like I had asked in a foreign language. I reluctantly gave up hope, maybe its just not possible to get the fruit in the north, maybe we don’t have the weather to grow them, dejected I gave up. A couple of weeks later I was in London visiting my brother and at a bit of a loose end I ended up wandering around Borough Market and unplanned, and not exactly conveniently, left with a rather large (and quite expensive) bag of quince. They had the most amazing smell, very floral and citrus like, yet were rock hard. I decided to make Quince Jelly and ended up looking at many different recipes but all them just threw the leftover pulp away. I knew that quince pulp was basically what Membrillo (Quince Paste/Quince Cheese) is made from so I decided to see if I could make both Quince Jelly and Membrillo from one batch of the fruit (normally you don’t drain the juice, as in the jelly, for membrillo but I decided to just have a go).
an amalgamation of both the jelly and membrillo recipes from http://www.simplyrecipes.com
3 1/2 lbs Quince, washed, stems removed, cored and quatered
7 Cups Water
Enough Sugar to add almost a cup of sugar (7/8) per cup of juice
1 Vanilla Pod, split
2 Strips Lemon Peel
1. Add the quince, vanilla and lemon peel to a large saucepan and add the water (if doing by eye enough to cover the fruit by an inch)
2. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 mins to an hour until fruit is soft, remove the vanilla.
3. With a potato masher, mash the fruit to the consistency of runny applesauce. Add more water if too thick.
4. Place a metal strainer over a pan and line with cheesecloth. Ladle the pulp into the strainer and leave to drain for 3-4 hours until all the juice has drained out. Set the pulp aside for the membrillo.
5. Measure the amount of juice you have, should be about 4 or 5 cups. Pour into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Measure out the sugar – about 7/8 a cup per cup of juice. Add the sugar to the juice.
6. Initially stir continually until the sugar is dissolved, then add a candy thermometer to monitor the temp.
7. As it cooks you need to skim off the foam that comes to the surface.
8. Continue to cook until the mixture reaches 220F at which point the Jelly is ready to pour into jars. Seal with paraffin or use canning jars and make sure your jars are sterilised.
I have to admit that I must have undershot the temperature a little as after hours in the jars the jelly refused to set so I re-boiled it, which in the end meant I only got 3 jars of jelly rather than the 4 I had from the first boil. Therefore my top tip is obviously to boil to the right temperature.
Leftover pulp from the Jelly Recipe
3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Around 4 Cups of Sugar
1. Take the leftover pulp and puree it as much as possible with a hand blender, then strain it through a medium mesh strainer to remove the coarse skin. Measure this pulp and add an equal amount of sugar. Return the quince to a saucepan, heat over medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the Lemon Juice.
2. Continue to cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1-1 1/2 hours until the quince has formed a thicker paste and has a deep orange pink colour.
3. Preheat the oven to 125F/52C and line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease this with butter (oops I forgot this). Pour the paste into the prepared pan, smoothing the top and then cook for about an hour. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely.
This is traditionally served in spain with manchego which would have been wonderful, but with none around I tried it with a mature cheddar and it was great, pairing really well with the saltiness of the cheese. The jelly has a really wonderful flavour, floral and vaguley reminiscent of a citrusy honey but with a lighter texture and a brighter flavour. The membrillo has the same flavour but is less delicate and bright.