The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Quince jelly and other quince recipes revisited

quinces on plateI decided last week to turn some of the quinces from Anna’s garden into something delicious. I rubbed off the fluff, cut them into chunks and covered them with water and the zest of a lemon. They were simmering on the gentlest setting (lid on) for about four hours until they softened and the juice took on that deep pink hue.

I strained the juice through a jelly bag overnight and popped both the juice and the strained flesh into the fridge. I was delighted to discover that both keep happily in the fridge for a couple of weeks. 800g of quinces and 850ml (1.5 pints) of water made 600ml of thickish juice that I am going to dilute a bit before venturing to make our delicious jelly. The fruit pulp will be seived and turned into quince cheese or Membrillo.

However, neither the quinces nor the juice have quite the same rich colour of a photograph of poached quinces that I saw last year. Towards the end of 2006 I read two wonderful posts about quinces written by Melissa from The Traveller’s Lunchbox. The first is an exquisite reminiscence of her first taste of membrillo and a good recipe. The second is a lazy way to make poached quinces and a vibrant red quince cordial. The photo on this post has stuck in my mind ever since.

Lying awake last night, I remembered Melissa’s posts and recipes. Although the laptop was propped beside the bed and D was sleeping soundly beside me, I didn’t like to fire it up just a foot away from his pillow. It has inbuilt speakers and is quite a vociferous machine.

So I crept downstairs and leafed through our abridged Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management that we keep in the loo. She suggests a long cooking time, at least 3 hours, and the addition of cochineal (if desperate). I am not that desperate.

Surely one could make Membrillo out of the quinces in both recipes and jelly out of the quince infused water. You would need to leave out the sugar during the baking stage of the poached quince (recpe 2) and probably reduce the liquid a bit after the baking stage.

What do you think?

Also, on the subject of quinces, I found this gorgeous site today with some ancient recipes for making quince paste and setting it in beautiful moulds. These would make wonderful Christmas presents. We have some old glass bowls that belonged to my grandmother that have a star pattern cut into the base. They would make a good mould if the paste was not too hot.

Update. We ow have our own recipe for membrillo here.

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  1. Having moved to southern Spain 2 years ago and inherrited a huge quince tree, I decided to look for recipes. Other than the usual jams and jellies (all very tasty) I made this one myself. I peeled and quartered the quince and poached it in my slow cooker with a mixture of brown and caster sugar and a little water. It made a delicious syrupy rosey pink soft fruit. I then made this into a delicious crumble and served with some of the syrupy juice stirred into some queso fresco.
    I am going to look for recipes this year too as our tree currently has an abundance of fruit again.
    If I find any of the alcoholic variety I will try them and post to you.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed looking through your lovely site.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hello CoolC0605

    Thank you so much for such a positive response – great that you are enjoying the site 🙂

    As the quince jelly set nicely in the pan it will firm up – sometimes it takes a few days.

    Love the sound of the winter plum jam!

  3. CoolC0605


    Just had to say I love this site, the comments thus far have inspired me to make my own quince jelly, last night the house was full of the lovely fruity slighty floral aroma of cooking quinces. Today I have completed the task and the colour is an almost magical sun lit ruby red.

    It seems very runny at the moment but it set very firmly on the spoon and the base of the pan that was left,I hope I have not spoiled it? I have kept and refrigerated the pulp ready to make quince cheese next weekend, can’t wait. Up til now I have only made variations of plum jams, a Winter plum that I have cooked with the addition of a cinnamon stick and grated nutmeg has proven very popular, and blackberry jam with or without the addition of apples.

    I am going to have a look at the other recipes on your site as I do love traditional food, especially home grown, I have had to be quite creative with a glut of courgettes this year, to include, curries, chutneys, relishes and cakes.

    I have added you to my favourites and will keep checking in to see what new and exciting things you have to offer.

    SO glad I found you, keep up the good work,


  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Anne

    I’m sorry but I don’t have the book myself (although it is copyright as it’s constantly updated). I have added it to our Bookshop, on our site so you can check that it’s the same one.

  5. Anne Whybrow

    I’m new to this kind of website and have found it very interesting.
    About 25years ago I used to make Spiced Quince which used Coriander seed and was delicious with cheese or cold meats. Sadly I no longer have the recipe and now have a quince tree in my garden and would like to spice some quince again.
    I am sure that the recipe came from a Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food book on preserves.
    Can any one help.

  6. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sally

    You can make quince vodka or could try substituting quinces for pears in this recipe

    Hi Kate (uk)

    Slicing and drying the fruit is a great idea.

  7. kate (uk)

    Most preserved fruit recipes need sugar- it is the sugar that does the preserving, without the sugar it will ferment/rot. How about slicing and drying them?

  8. I have a bush full of quinces…but don’t really eat jam. Thought it might be nice to make some kind of quince perry but don’t have a clue how to home brew. Any ideas anyone. Quince cheese sounds nice…but does the recipe have sugar innit?

  9. Having a wonderful morning reading all your suggestions for quinces. Could anyone suggest some more alcoholic drink recipes.

    Looking forward to your replies…

  10. Fiona Nevile

    Hello susanna

    Apologies for taking so long to respond to you. I’m going to try your jam at the weekend – thank you so much.

    Hi Pumpkin-Power

    Tome left a recipe for quince vodka a few weks ago and I’m also going to make this at the weekend.

    “Ref. quinces, quince vodka is fantastic – simply grate the entire quince, skin, pips and all, with a coarse grater, stick it in a big jar and cover the gratings with vodka. Leave six months or more, adding a little sugar to taste. Don’t add too much sugar, because this is a delightfully dry drink, which even makes a good aperitif when chilled.”

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