Easy quince cheese recipe (membrillo)Posted by Fiona Nevile in Fruit, Jam Jelly and Preserves, Vegetarian | 155 comments
I’m back at the helm and it’s marvellous to be feeling well and chirpy and slimmer. Forget Champneys. A week in bed with a bug does wonders for the figure.
Danny put on his sensible parent hat this morning. He instructed me not to go to work, reasoning that more recuperation was required. He was right. I did feel weak.
This afternoon, he relented slightly.
“Why not go out foraging for an hour. You could do with some fresh air.”
He passed me the foraging stick, tossed me his car keys and disappeared upstairs.
I found some plump sloes and with the help of the walking stick accessed branches that only a seven foot giant could reach. The crab apple tree had a small final harvest. Being north facing its fruit had not spoiled. I tootled home and simmered the crab apples with chillies to make a hot jelly (recipe later this week if it turns out well).
My main aim today was to make some quince cheese. The quinces had been cooked and strained for jelly the week before last. The juice and flesh keep well in the fridge for up to two weeks. Today was the last day.
When I discovered membrillo at the Spanish Deli in Portobello Road I was delighted. I love the combination of membrillo and Manchego. Danny wasn’t impressed. His face crumpled when he tasted it.
“It’s so sweet. How can you like it?”
I was pretty sure that membrillo needn’t be so sweet. I looked at various recipes on the internet. The amount of sugar varied enormously. In the end I decided to plump for an equal volume of quince pulp to sugar. This has produced a membrillo that is sweet but tastes of quince. I reckon that one could get away with even less sugar in fact when I looked in my copy of Oded Schwartz, his recipe uses slightly less – 50g less. Adding the lemon juice made a difference too.
They key to this recipe is time. I simmered the quinces for at least three hours until they became a deep pink colour. The final stage is a long process too. The quince pulp and sugar was simmered gently (lowest setting) for a good 2-3 hours to intensify the colour and thicken the pulp to the right consistency. There is no need to bring the mixture to a rolling boil. This is a recipe that is spread over two evenings. One evening simmer the quinces and strain overnight. The next evening make the membrillo.
Danny tasted it gave the recipe the thumbs up, especially when he realised that the by product is the juice for quince jelly.
Easy quince cheese recipe (membrillo)
For the quince pulp:
- 1 kilo of quinces
- Zest of half a lemon
- Water to cover
For the quince cheese:
- Quince pulp
- Juice of half a lemon
- Granulated (not castor) white sugar (equal volume to the pulp)
- Rub the down off the quinces and wash them. There is no need to peel or core the quinces.
- Chop the quinces carefully, as they are hard it is easy for the knife to slip. I chopped them into quarters and sliced them into 1cm slices.
- Place the quince slices in a large saucepan or casserole dish and add water so that they are just floating. Add the zest of half a lemon.
- Bring slowly to the boil and then turn the hob down to it’s lowest setting so that the quinces gently simmer (lid on). Simmer the fruit until very soft and the fruit has turned a deep pink colour. This took me about 3 hours. Check the quinces every now and then and top up the water if necessary.
- Strain the juice from the fruit overnight using a jelly bag or muslin square. Retain the juice to make quince jelly.
- I was loathe to spend hours pressing the quinces through a sieve so I put them through the Magimix (medium grater blade) and then I sieved them.
- Measure the pulp using a measuring jug put the pulp into a large heavy bottomed saucepan or casserole dish and add an equal volume of white granulated sugar. Add the juice of half a lemon.
- Bring the pulp and sugar gradually to simmering point, stirring to dissolve the sugar and let it simmer, lowest setting for 2-3 hours, stirring every now and then to stop it sticking and burning. It will resemble gloopy mud. Gradually the colour will darken. Eventually the fruit will become very thick (I could stand my spoon up in mine).
- Spoon into well oiled sterilised straight sided jars and seal with cellophane lids. This will keep for months. Cut slices to eat with cheese or cold meat. Refrigerate after opening.
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