Quince – until a few years or so, it would have been very likely that the only reaction to this name you would have earned from people was a question mark in their face, the same would have been probably the case when you would have shown them the actual fruit. “Is it a pear? An apple?” – No, quince, the fruit only some grandmothers would make jelly from.
But those days are gone, nowadays quince – like other nearly forgotten fruits, vegetable, herbs – has become hip again. Since 2009 we can drink Bionade with quince, and quince is all around our supermarket these days: it’s in your body lotion, jam and vinegar – and even a wall paint colour is named by this fruit.
I came into contact with quince in my childhood already, but never particularly liked its flavour. It was just when a friend of mine who had lived in Spain for a while introduced me to dulce de membrillo (= quince paste; german: Quittenbrot, portugues: marmelada) combined with a slice of salty aged manchego cheese …. flavour explosion! What a heavenly indulgence!
This made me curious for more quince experiences and I discovered that quince mustard sauce is just as much a great partner for cheese.
So, when I came across the first quinces on the market a few weeks ago, it finally had to be done: I wanted to make those products myself. I read the a bit older, in principal similar membrillo recipes of Jen, Elise, Nicole, Melissa, trying to remember all their helpful tips from their experience. And it worked well, although I didn’t cook the quince paste long enough befor drying it in the oven, so I had to leave it there some more hours until it had left enough moisture. But in the end this didn’t matter. The final result was the same … just a bit more waiting.
For the quince mustard sauce I didn’t follow any recipe, just my own instinct and tastebuds. Its basically a crossing between jam and chutney, where there is added some grounded mustard at the end.
Try both of it with cheese and discover new worlds of flavour and joy! More me quinces are my new autumn love!
about 1,5 kg quinces, juice of 2 lemons, zest of 1 lemon, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla seeds, about 750 g sugar (exact amount is determined later)
Wash and core quinces. Make sure you get rid of the hairy outside of quinces. You don’t have to peel them. Just cut off bruises and spots. Chop roughly and place in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to boil. Add lemon zest as well as vanilla seeds. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes until fruit is very soft. Drain and purée with a handheld blender or food processor (lemon zest still in).
Now add sugar. At this point all recipes call for and “equal amount” as the quinces, but some measure by weight, some by volume, which makes a difference. I measured by volume and ended up with 750 g of sugar for 1,2 kg fruit purée (2/3 in weight). I’m no fan of too much sweetness and for me this decision was the right one in the end, but feel free to add 1,2 kg of sugar.
Mix sugar and fruit purée in your pot, add lemon juice and cook over medium heat, stir occasionally. The quince purée will gradually change its colour from pale yellow to deep rose and it will thicken into a sticky paste texture (see picture). This will take about 1½-2 hour. Leave the pot without lid or half closed, cause you want to let the moisture out. This can be tricky when the purée is starting to bubble and splash.
Transfer cooked paste to a baking pan lined with baking paper and ligthly greased and smooth out the top. (For this amount I used two baking pans, about 22×14 cm.) It should be not too liquid but still easily spreadable. Place in oven at 50°C for about an hour to fully dry. Membrillo is ready when it doesn’t stick to the paper anymore.
Note: If you put the quince paste too soon into the oven (like I did), don’t panic. The drying process will just take longer. Just a bit more patience…
Cool out and cut into long bars. Wrap in wax paper or plastic foil and keep in fridge up to one year.
When serving with cheese cut into small slices. You can also eat membrillo on your breakfast bun or f.ex. use is for (sweet and savoury) sauces.
Quince mustard sauce (makes about 500 ml)
400 g quince, 200 g sugar, 70 ml white wine vinegar, 4 tablespoons grounded (yellow) mustard seeds, small piece of ginger
The first steps are the same as when making membrillo: Wash and core quinces. Make sure you get rid of the hairy outside of quinces. You don’t have to peel them. Just cut off bruises and spots. Chop roughly and place in a medium pot. Cover with water and bring to boil. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes until fruit is very soft. Drain and purée with a handheld blender or food processor.
Now add sugar and ginger cut into slices. Cook at medium heat for 30 minutes, stir occasionally. Add vinegar and cook for another 10 minutes. Put aside and let cool down just a bit. Whisk in grounded mustard seeds until smooth. Immediately fill into hot sterilized jars. Store in fridge.
Note that the heat of the mustard depends on the temperature of your base. The hotter you want the mustard to be, the more you have to cool down the quince purée. As I wanted to have just a mild mustard taste and no tears in my eyes I stirred it in when the base was still hot.