It’s no secret, not least because of my previous post, that I adore quinces. The way they change colour on cooking, their richly honeyed fragrance, their mallowy texture, their ambrosial flavours – is there a fruit more bewitching?
This year I’ve been lucky to benefit from a kind neighbourly donation – our 3 new trees are yet to produce a crop – and so, like a child in a playroom, I seized on them eagerly, and bundled them off to the kitchen.
I’ve recently bought a copy of @AlysFowler’s already well-received book, The Thrifty Forager (worth putting on your Christmas list), so I decided to give her recipe a trial run. I’m happy to report that it worked like a dream.
Here it is, with a few tiny tweaks:
about a kilo of quinces (I peeled and cored mine)
1 vanilla pod (I didn’t use this)
lemon juice and rind of one lemon, cut into strips
granulated sugar (I used unrefined caster)
Place fruit in a large pan, adding just enough water to cover the fruit. Bring to a gentle boil and simmer until tender – about 20-30 minutes.
Strain the juice through a jelly bag overnight (you can then use this for jelly). Put the remaining pulp through a sieve or mouli (I simply mashed mine thoroughly), then add the vanilla, if using, and lemon juice, rind, and sugar – the same weight of sugar as pulp.
Return the pan to the heat and bring slowly to the boil, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat, and bring to a rapid boil until it reaches setting point – the paste will feel thick and scrape clean away from the edge of the pan. This will take about 30-45 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and pour the paste onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray to dry. (I used a tray 6in x 10in x 1in, which was the perfect size.)
At this point, Alys recommends leaving the paste to air dry for several days – it should be slightly shiny and sticky to touch. I accelerated the process by putting the tray in a cool oven (no higher than 100C) for 3 hours, and then leaving in a cupboard overnight.
The paste is then ready to wrap in greaseproof paper and to store in an airtight container in the fridge.
I turned mine out…
… and then cut it into 5 slabs of roughly equal size.
”It will last for many months kept like this,” says Alys. To which I say – not in my household. Eat it with manchego or, if you want to stay loyal to these shores, Sussex-made Lord of the Hundreds.