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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)

Ingredients:

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)

Method:

  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 the 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

156 Comments

  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pat,

    Jars “ check out tonight™s post.

    Quinces seem a tricky fruit to bag but they™re not. Go to the market in Chelmsford and ask the fuit/veg stall when the will have quinces. I found them in Cambridge market last November. They will be happy to tell you. Genarally they are a pound (cost) a quince. Two quinces probably weigh a kilo.

    Jars needn™t be a problem. Read my next post.

    Sealing the jars. Read my next post in a few days time.

    Thanks for dropping by. Always appreciate your visits.

    Hi K.J.,

    Go for it!

    Hi Joanna,

    Looking forward to your revelations. We are delighted with our membrillo but would like to make the perfect M.

    Thanks for your comment about Lakeland.

    Hi Jude,

    Your fruit sound perfect for mermbrillo or quince jelly.
    Quinces are very hard too but both make superb preserves.

    Hi Mildred,

    Thanks for joining in. I think that I have seen quinces at Waitrose already tis year (perhaps it was a dream), You are right Lakeland is a good place to start. Love your idea “ Tesco mince sauce- dump, clean and voila fresh jars. Spot on.

    Hi Celia,

    I loved making our Membrillo. Cambridge market “ quinces towards Christmas if not before.

    Feeling great now and back at work.

    Hi Pat,

    I water bath my jars of fruit but not my preserves. More later in the week!

    Hi Amanda,

    It™s a magical combination for some but yuky for others. Thank goodness a few dislike membrillo “ more for those who savour the treat.

    Hi Tessie,

    Thanks for your tip. Glad to hear that quinces are available at the Greek and Cypriot shops. Hope that your recipe works well for you.

  2. I love membrillo with cheese so i decided to make them.I get the recipe in the internet.You can buy quince from Greek,Cyprus shop.They are on season this time of the year.

  3. I’m not too keen on membrillo, I first tried it in Spain and didn’t get it at all. That said I don’t like apple with cheese or brie and grape sandwiches, I think I prefer savoury with cheese. Though I quite like mango chutney with a mature cheddar…

    I liked the little chat that went on in the comments today. I love Lakeland too!

    Hope you’re 110% recoverd.

  4. Do you water bath can your jams and jellies???? In the US, I would waterbath can anything that was very sweet or acidic,such as jams,jellies or tomatoes and pickles, everything else I would pressure can. When I say can, I used jars and lids. We were told not to use the oven canning method as it wasn’t safe. We had special jars and two part lids for canning. I have seen the jars and lids at lakeland, but the cellophane lids I haven’t used before. I may have to do an order soon. Also we were told not to reuse lids as they wouldn’t seal properly again. I do remember my grandmother using parafin wax to seal her jams and jellies.

  5. Quince jelly is such a treat – I wonder if I can find some quinces? Today’s the kind of wet dreary day when making preserves is the perfect thing to to – warm, satisfying and filling the house with a delicious aroma.

    Hope the membrillo-making helped to make you feel recovered.
    Celia

  6. Mildred

    Hi Pat, Waitrose should be getting their stock of quinces in anytime soon.
    And I agrre with Joanna that Lakeland.com is great for jars etc. I also buy the little jars of ‘value’ mint sauce from tescos to use the empty, clean jars with the Lakeland gingham lids! That size makes a nice gift too!
    Raining here too.

  7. I have a Japanese quince which currently has about 100 fruit on it. They are small and green, with a bit of red blush, and very very hard. Can I use them in this recipe do you think?
    Thanks!

    • Japonica quinces can be cooked and turned into japonica jam or japonica jelly. I have often done this and they are gorgeous. I see no reason why you should not make them into the stiff fruit cheese which is membrillo.

      They are the same fruit, essentially, as the big quinces above but much more fragrant when ripe. I have a japonica and although it fruited this year the quinces did not ripen, even on south-facing wall. When ripe they are a brilliant gold, even brighter than their bigger relations. This is the time to pick them.

      If you have a slow-cooker you can simmer the membrillo right down both efficiently and economically. I have also often done this. I then tip the sludge into an baking-oblong tray lined with baking parchment and let it cool, then score it so that the final chop isn’t too difficult.

      Sieve equal parts of icing-sugar and cornflour or arrowroot and roll the cubes of membrillo in it, like Turkish Delight. Makes a great Christmas present. Eat with blue cheese – Oxford Blue or one of the ewe-milk blues. Princely.

      • Anthony

        Jess, sounds like you’ve got Chaenomeles japonica, the one with the brick-red flowers. This has very fragrant, small and short-lived fruit. C. speciosa has larger fruit, sharper flavour and longer life; the flowers come in various colours. Neither has the granularity of tree quince, Cydonia.
        I use mainly the latter. In bulk, I’ve jammed it. Otherwise, it gets used to tart up anything including apples, also in curries and stir fries and on pizzas.

  8. Great to read this, as I’ve been doing the same research to make less sweet membrillo, and simplify. I’ve got a slightly different idea than yours, and will do it later this week – there are quinces at the bottom of my garden, but it’s pouring with rain at the moment, first time for weeks, and it’s so cosy in the house 😉

    Pat, a very good starting point for most of what you want would be Lakeland, either one of their many shops, or through their very efficient mail order service. Everything. Jars, just lids, cellophane lids, jelly bags.

    Joanna
    joannasfood.blogspot.com

  9. Your quince cheese looks great. I wish I could try it. I am definitely going to be trying this myself.

  10. Fiona, I just love reading your posts! You always intrigue me and give me inspiration to want to try what you are cooking. But I don’t have a clue where to get quinces. Or the jars for making jelly. Back in the US I used to make all sorts of jams and jellies and can my garden produce, but here I don’t have a clue where to find the stuff I need. We all must do things totally differently. Thanks for a great read!!!

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