Monday, October 13, 2008


The quince is a funny fruit: Large, fuzzy, hard as a rock, astringent, and completely inedible in its raw form. But cooked and coaxed, it has a perfumed fragrance both citrus and floral, the texture of pear, and a rich golden amber color. It has a taste hard to place—honey, apple, flowers—that is worth all the trouble of this difficult and odd fruit.

The season for quince is short. It appears at my produce market for a brief period in the fall. Fortunately a girlfriend called this to my attention and declared Saturday afternoon our Quincerama. We met at my house with large bags of quince, Meyer lemons, and sugar. Our goal was to make as many quince products as possible.

We started with sliced quince poached in vanilla syrup. We added peeled sliced fruit to a simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) that had been simmering with a vanilla bean.

When we ladled the mixture into jars, the fruit was still fairly pale in color. But look at it after 30 minutes in a hot water bath!

We'll be eating this over vanilla ice cream, mixing it into apple pie filling (a traditional use for it since the flavor is compatible and the high pectin gives the filling some body), and stirring it into hot oatmeal.

While this was going on, I had quinces roasting in the oven for my quince paste, a traditional accompaniment for the Spanish cheese Manchego. I halved the fruit and placed in cut-side down in a roasting pan with about an inch of water. I baked at 350 degrees for a couple of hours.

The pulp then takes a long trip through the food processor (the hardest workout mine has had in ages) and is combined with an equal amount of sugar, a little fresh lemon juice, a cinnamon stick, and some rose geranium.

Quince paste is usually formed into a loaf pan or terrine to cool and is then served in thin slices. But I thought it would be fun to use some butter molds to make little shapes.

I also used a copper mold for some.

It took a little coaxing with a sharp knife to get these out. Thank goodness I had given the molds a good spray with canola oil.

To store these, I cut out rounds of waxed paper onto which I had traced the outside of a plastic container. I then stacked the little shapes in layers. They'll keep in a cool place, unrefrigerated for several months.


4 medium quinces (about 2 pounds)
1 /4 to 1/2 cups water
2 to 3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons fresh
lemon juice
1 stick cinnamon
1 sprig fresh rose geranium (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray terrine or molds with canola spray.

Scrub quinces to remove fuzz. Slice in two length-wise and place cut-side down in roasting pan. Fill pan with about an inch of water. Place in oven and roast until and knife goes in easily and skins start to brown (about two hours).

When quinces are cool enough to handle, peel, core, and quarter. Place in food processor and puree, adding water as necessary. Measure puree and place in a heavy saucepan. Add to saucepan equivalent amount of sugar. Add cinnamon stick and rose geranium.

Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened and beginsto pull away from the sides of the pan, about 25 minutes.

Pour puree into terrine or molds, smoothing off top with offset knife. Cool until set, about 4 hours.

Run a thin knife around sides of terrine or molds to release quince paste. Quince paste keeps wrapped and chilled about three months.


KSK said...

These look just amazing - you are probably wondering what my shipping address is, aren't you? ;)

Jenn said...

How very cool - I learned something new today! Never heard about this fruit before.

Mary Coleman said...

That looks absolutely fabulous. I love quince jam. I can't wait to make the paste.
Once again, you rock.

Anonymous said...

Looks yummy!!

Jen Yu said...

Oh yay! I had quince in Argentina. It was a quince paste called membrillo and it was delightful! They eat it the way you do, but they didn't have cute little molds. That is so ROCKING! I have to try it (but have no quince). Dang. Thanks for the recipe. Sweet. (P.S. Arapahoe Basin is opening on Wednesday!!! GACK. I'm desperate enough to ski it too, that manmade crap...)

Sabina said...

love the molded results! soooo purty and shiny...

Becs said...

Hello, Thank you so much for the award I will post about it later today! Thank you also for your complement, you are right "they" do not own the pink and green! Your jam looks super yummy, I wish I could have it for breakfast this morning! Best, Becs

Trish said...

I will be tracking down those cute molds! Very neat!

I love membrillo, which you can find fairly easily, but I've never seen a quince in it's natural state here.

I think you need to do a giveaway!!

Deb said...

I always wondered about quince. Those shaped quince pastes are adorable!

Kate said...

Ooooh! Membrillo! Haven't had that in SO long!! I'll have to see if I can get my hands on some quinces & give it a whirl.

adozeneggs said...

Cool idea to make the quince paste in a mold.
I love it with manchego and marcona almonds, yummm.

Kate said...

Wow and yum! I love quince paste with manchego and some jamon serrano. I can't believe you just whipped that up. You really are rather incredible.

High on Hairspray said...

Never had a quince. you are remarkable!

Angelina said...

I need a quince supply! I have a tree but I only planted it this year and it still looks like a stick with some leaves.

Those molded quince paste slices are beyond stylish and I admit that I almost swooned even though I am totally against such dramatic expressions of excitement.