Approximately 2 kg quince slices (peeled and core removed)
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice from 2 lemons
Few rose geranium leaves (optional)
1 vanilla pod (optional – I prefer the rose geranium)
Equal volume sugar to pureed quince pulp. About 1,5 liters for 2kg fruit.
You will need a baking tray or oven dish lined with baking paper. Do not use wax paper! Lightly spray the paper with non-stick baking spray.
- As you peel quinces they start to oxidize and turn brown very quickly, so you must always have a bowl of either well salted or acidulated water at hand to dunk the peeled fruit. Use approximately 50ml salt or 25ml white vinegar to 2 liters water.
- Cut away any insect stings or bruising. Before you discard them, look at your recipe as they sometimes recommend that you place the core, pips and peels into a bag to extract the pectin for jellies.
- Place the quinces in a heavy based pot. Always use a pot made from non-reactive metal e.g. stainless steel or enamel. I used my large Le Creuset Pot.
- Cover with water and add the lemon zest and juice and the rose geranium leaves. If you are using vanilla, cut the pod in half lengthwise, and add it. Bring the water to boil.
- Allow the quinces to simmer until they are tender. This takes at least 30 minutes.
- Pour the water off. I reserved the water to make quince jelly. If you add some sugar or sweetener it could also make a delicious chilled drink.
- Puree the quinces until smooth. Now measure the volume and add equal quantities of sugar.
- Return the mixture to the pot and heat gradually until it boils. It is essential to stir as it can easily burn as it thickens. I wore a silicon oven glove whilst stirring as the mixture gets very hot and as it thickens it is inclined to bubble and splash! Be prepared to stir for a while. My mixture took about 90 minutes to cook!
- As the mixture thickens it turns dirty beige and eventually it becomes the typical deep rose pink.
- When it pulls away from the sides of the pan and the waves caused by the stirring hold their shape it is ready.
- Pour the hot mixture into the baking tray and smooth the surface until it is about 15mm thick. Cover with a clean, dry dish towel.
- Allow the mixture to stand for at least 24 hours to set. I read a tip to place the tray in a fan oven at 150°C for 30 minutes to dry the surface. I did so, and it dried the surface, making it easy to handle.
- Cut it into squares or strips, wrap in cling wrap. It will keep like this for months.
- Serve with wedges of Manchego or other firm hard cheese such as a mature Cheddar or Parmesan. I also think it pairs well with any blue-veined cheese.
When I made the paste last year I didn’t cook it for long enough, so the paste was not firm. I put it in preserving jars and served it as a spread. It was just as delicious!