To Quince ... or Not to Quince...
Without it brie is just another cheese. Quince Paste is the perfect accompaniment to soft cheese, especially brie, double brie or triple brie.
I will not survive the year, unless I have enough quince paste to last me till next season. It is a sad occasion when there is brie to be had and no quince paste in sight. boo hoo!
There are many recipes out there to follow, however my favourite recipe is the age-old Tudor recipe from the Historic Food website
Last year I made a huge batch of quince paste. I was lucky enough to get a bag full from a friend of a friend, so I literally made heaps of quince paste and enjoyed it with my brie and roasts for a whole year. So thankful I didn't run out. I still have one container full, which is great, because I will be able to do a taste test, and compare the flavour, consistency and colour with last year's quince paste.
QUINCE PASTE RECIPE (MEMBRILLO)
Quince - ripened
Vanilla pod or extract
OPTIONAL FLAVOURINGS: Choose one or use all three (3)
Chinese Five Spice
START with a few quince. fully ripened. If they are a bit green wait till they ripen in your fruit bowl. (however I have also made it with quinces that wouldn't ripen in the fruit bowl).
Today (Mon Nov 26) I made my quince paste with only three (3) large quinces, perfectly ripened. I bought them a week ago, and allowed them to sit in the fruit bowl to develop an all-over ripe yellow.
First, thoroughly WASH your quince, and then CUT into quarters and cut away the core, RETAIN the core for later, to place in muslin, and cook with the quince. LEAVE the skin on, but cut off and discard any dis-colouration or the odd weird brown bit.
CUT the quarters into smaller CUBES, and place in a large saucepan, ADD enough water to cover the quince, ADD vanilla pod or vanilla extract, and ADD cinnamon or your choice of optional flavourings. ADD some lemon juice, from half a lemon. STIR.
Allow the quince to come to the BOIL, and then SIMMER for at least 1hr 30mins, I prefer to allow the water to evaporate so there is no need to pour off any liquid. Remember to tie the cut out core pieces into a muslin bag and dangle in the quince. I tie mine with string and tie it to the handle of the saucepan so it is easily fished out later. Apparently the core pieces and the skin help with the setting of the paste, I can't remember where I read that, but it is out there somewhere. Once the cooking is done, REMOVE the muslin bag with core pieces, and with a blender, blend the cooked quince.
ADD sugar, measure out the quince (using scales), and add an 1/2 to 3/4 the amount of sugar to quince. Add the sugar in increments, stirring through the quince and taste test before you add the full amount of sugar. The flavour consists of: "cooked quinces" they taste like sour apples, with a lovely hint of vanilla and cinnamon in the background, and a nice balanced sweetness. Taste as you go, you can always add more lemon juice, or sugar, to balance the flavour. It is not meant to be sweet like jam! Remember it is eaten with savoury foods, cheeses and roast meats.
NOW, once you have added your sugar, and you are happy with the flavour, ALLOW to SIMMER on low heat for 2 - 3 hrs.
Make sure you stir frequently, to prevent it from burning.
WATCH out for the volcanic eruptions during this process, and don't get lava burns. COVER the saucepan with a cotton tea towel or muslin, stretched over the top and held in place.
DO NOT use tea towel if cooking on a gas cooker. You can cover with aluminium foil, with slits cut into it, to allow the steam to escape.
Your quince paste will start to THICKEN and develop a REDDISH hue. Don't worry at this stage, the full darker red develops once it has been dried out in the oven, and the older it gets the better it looks. (wish it was the same for us humans)
Grease and line a baking dish or tray with baking paper (not wax paper).
Gently, POUR the paste into the lined baking dish and smooth the top, keep the thickness between 2-3 cms, it will help dry the quince paste faster.
Place in a WARM oven around 100C (200F), leaving the door ajar slightly, allow to DRY in the oven for about 2hrs or more if needed.
When your quince paste has dried all the way through, allow to cool.
I also let it stand for a few days in the airing cupboard to make sure it is well set. Cover with a clean cloth and do not disturb.
SLICE into squares, wrap in cling wrap, and place in containers, and store in fridge.
Will last over 12 months.
Enjoy you quince paste with a beautiful brie and a nice glass of wine....
QUINCE PASTE is also very good with roast meats, especially pork. YOU CAN ALSO EAT YOUR QUINCE PASTE with cream cheese, cottage cheese or goats cheese.
Bon appetit, Smacznego!