Now this is a great thing to make on a gloomy rainy autumn Saturday – you need a couple of quinces, some sugar and a good dose of patience. You also want to be doing something else while you’re making it as it cooks for about three hours, needing a gentle stir every ten minutes or so. I found it combined well with tidying the house and making a batch of muesli and one of granola. Wow, what an exciting Saturday. It made up for it in the evening by dancing until 3, so I’m not so old and boring after all. Plus I got ID’d going into the club. Molly didn’t. Enough of that and on with the recipe, make it soon though as quinces will disappear in December. It could also be an excellent Christmas present – this stuff will keep for months.
2 quinces (or more if you want more…)
large bag of sugar
Peel the quinces, quarter and remove the core carefully with a knife, chop the flesh up into smallish chunks. Place in a pan of water and bring up to the boil. Leave to cook away for about 45 minutes, until the quince is nice and soft.
Drain and blitz in a food processor until completely smooth. Weigh the quince pulp and return it to the pan with an equal weight of sugar. Place over a low heat – don’t be tempted to increase the flame, I did and it spat out at me and gave me a small burn on my face – go with caution! At this point you need to stir continuously until all the sugar has dissolved, this will take around 10 minutes.
Once the sugar has dissolved, you can leave it to do it’s thing a bit more, but you need to stir it about every 10 minutes to avoid it burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan. It will need to cook like this for around three hours. You’ll know when it’s done because it will turn a lovely deep red colour – I think this is the sugar caramelising rather than any mystic quality of the quince, but correct me if I’m wrong?
While all that’s happening, grease and line a 1 lb loaf tin with baking paper. I think the best way to line it for this kind of thing is with two long strips of paper – one to go across the pan and one to cover the length with an overhang on both strips which will help you to lift the membrillo out when it’s set.
Once it has reached the lovely deep colour, remove from the heat and carefully pour into your prepared tin. Smooth the surface with a palette knife or something similar and fold the paper over it. Either leave to cool at room temperature, or to accelerate things place in the fridge to set.
Remove from the tin and slice – this is obviously especially delicious with manchego (don’t forget the sherry), but I also love it with a hard goats cheese. Wrap up in greaseproof paper and cling film and it’ll keep for ages.