Challenge Book #7 - It's Quince Week - membrillo
I, KJ, being of sound mind and body hereby officially declare it quince week. Why? Well because I have just spent the past month steadily working my way through a huge bag of the things and have lots of yummy quincy recipes to share. And, well, why not? They are interesting and delicious and all kinds of good things.
I scored a huge haul of quinces from a chance acquaintance with someone who happens to own a tree. I KNOW!!!! They were relieved to get rid of them. I was absolutely delighted to have them. The perfect deal.
Before I had even wrapped my little paws around my huge quince stash I knew what I wanted to try first. I have been dying to make membrillo ever since I discovered quinces last year.
First I needed a recipe. Eventually I settled on George's Quince Paste from Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion - which is Book# 7 in the KJ wants a Kitchen Aid Challenge. Cook's Companion is an Australian institution and one of my favourite cookbooks. At over 1100 pages it seems to have the answer for everything. It has already featured heavily on this blog (lamingtons, chocolate buttermilk pancakes, labna, french onion soup). You will be seeing it again soon.
Back to my membrillo. It certainly didn't sound complicated. And really it wasn't. The only real problem I had was stopping it from burning. The recipe suggests stirring the quince mix every few minutes for FOUR hours. Count em - FOUR. Who is going to do that? Certainly not me.
To avoid this mind numbing experience I left it to its own devices for about the first three hours - giving it a stir every half hour or so. From that point I turned the heat down to its lowest point and kept a closer eye on it. It still took quite an effort to stop it from charring. I think I needed a simmer mat.
I didn't get the mix to quite the thickness suggested in the recipe. In the end I just wanted to get it out of the pan. Still it turned out really well. It was lovely and firm and tasted fantastic.
This recipe makes a lot of membrillo. I gave huge chunks away and I have still been chomping away at it forever. Not that I'm complaining. I don't know who you are George, but thank you!!
George's Quince Paste
(adapted from Cook's Companion)
8 quinces, washed and peeled
1 cup water
juice 1 lemon
Cut the quinces into chunks and put into a large saucepan with a tightfitting lid. Add water, lemon juice and a quarter of the cores and pips. Cover and cook over a medium heat until quinces are cooked through.
Pass through a food mill and weigh the puree. Mix the puree with three-quarters of its weight of sugar. Return to a wide based saucepan. The original recipe says to cook over a moderate heat, stirring every few minutes until the paste leaves the side of the pan. I suggest using a very low heat to avoid burning. By the time it's cooked, it should be a deep red. This will take 3-4 hours.
Let the mix cool a little and then pour into a lined tray. Dry the mixture in a warm place for several days or overnight in a gas oven with the pilot light on. Keep well wrapped in greaseproof paper and alfoil.