The Cottage Smallholder

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Easy quince cheese recipe (membrillo)

quince cheese or membrilloI’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)


  1. Rub the down off the quinces and wash them. There is no need to peel or core the quinces.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Strain the juice from the fruit overnight using a jelly bag or muslin square. Retain the juice to make quince jelly.
  6. I was loathe to spend hours pressing the quinces through a sieve so I put them through theΒ Magimix (medium grater blade) and then I sieved them.
  7. 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.
  8. 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).
  9. 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.

  Leave a reply


  1. One idea to cut down the preparation time enormously is to microwave the quince whole (no water added) rather than simmer in water. I like the peel left on but it could be peeled off. It only takes 5 to 10 minutes on medium setting. Then the core picks out rather like a fish bone and you very quickly have the mushy flesh ready to add to the sugar….no need to put through a sieve. It could be zapped in a food processor for a minute or two to make really smooth. Spending 2 or 3 hours simmering the quinces removes a lot of the juices from the quince into the water and prolongs the time you have to simmer with sugar with all the extra liquid. Half an hour simmer with sugar is fine to reduce to the correct thickness when adding no water at all. Only need to add some lemon juice in the second stage.

  2. Love the fact that you can get jelly and membrillo from one recipe – but how about adding cordial to the list too πŸ™‚
    Last year I cooked up my quince with more water than necessary and half way through removed a couple of litres to experiment with making some cordial – it is fantastic and I recommend having a go.
    Mel o’ the mountains

  3. Gilers Downes

    You do not need to worry about peeling or coring quinces for membrillo or quince cheese, just put them whole in a tray or large pot into the oven set on 110 degrees for about 2 to 3 hours. the quinces come out so soft that you can scoop the flesh off the cores with a spoon.
    The skins just get incorporated into the mix. Then put in a preserving pan over a low heat, with granulated sugar about 70 % the weight of fruit, and no added liquid. Keep stirring the mix and reduce to a smooth pulp with a stick mixer. It should be ready to set after about an hour or so of cooking.
    I add raspberries for a slightly different flavour and put chopped walnuts and sometimes chopped dates in the bottom of the tray before pouring the quince paste over.

    • yes just baked them in the oven whole, cut off the hard bits then slow cooker,
      I then put piece of muslin into a big seive and strained. Have made the jelly Gorgeous, about to make the membrillo now

  4. sarabeth brown

    ok– as happens each year– my 40 year old quince tree produces tons of fruit. Even here in reno where some trees freeze each spring the quince tree makes way too many quinces to cook. so the dogs get some to toss around like balls and the squirrels and birds get the rest.

    my question is : you said you dont peel or core–(the most tiresome part of the prep) how do you get the seeds seperated from the fruit before you make the dulce de mebrillo?

  5. The Boxing Duck


    I came across your blog when looking for a membrillo recipe and am currently making it with your recipe. Only, I didn’t read the recipe properly – story of my life, that’s why I ususally don’t cook by recipe πŸ˜‰ – so I didn’t strain the quince over night but whizzed it and put it through the sieve and it’s now happily bubbling on the hob. However, I’m left with the cooking liquor, which tastes slightly lemony and quincy but is really a little watery. But I’m loath to just pour it down the drain. Do you have any idea what I could do with it?

    Rebekka πŸ™‚

  6. virginia dyer

    ok…so I found a neighbour who had quince fruit for sale at a few pounds per bag.went around and ended up with three bags full!!I arrived home with new kilner jars(made a mistake last year when making strawberry jam.i used my pickled onion kilner jars,forgetting and had to throw away my three jams!)
    However,i cleaned off the fuzz and chopped them all up.i read a short cut on the internet that said just cut them and sieve out the pips etc later.i wish I had not taken this short cut as im stuck with lots of tiny stone like bits!i actually think it must be in the quince!??but have done everything this recipe has told me and made the jelly.its great!i actually only used half of the sugar as im I think it will last less time. I think it will be eaten sooner anyway!onto the cheese…this took me an age though…4 days to sieve!over two hr stints of boredom every few hrs or so….I have a large tin full to put into the oven to make the sweets!im just leaving the oven on at its lowest for two hrs then leaving overnight to go going to dust with icing tomorrow.i just hope it goes well.the taste and smell is what has kept me going…im glad its only once a year though!hopefully worth it!

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