Quince Paste -- Dulce de Membrillo

Quince paste
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    75 mins
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Quince ("membrillo" in Spanish) comes into season just in time for the holidays, and it's delicious in both sweet and savory winter dishes.

Quince paste is made the same way as quince jam, by cooking the fruit with sugar. Quince has a lot of natural pectin and as the water boils away, the fruit forms a sweet paste that can be sliced.

Quince paste is often served with cheese and crackers -- especially in Argentina, where this appetizer is known as "el martín fierro" -- but is also used in many pastries.

Quince paste is a gourmet specialty, and you can buy it online and enjoy it all year-round.

What You'll Need

  • 2 to 3 quince
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • About 2 cups sugar
  • Pinch of salt

How to Make It

  1. Peel and core the quince.
  2. Cut into large wedges.
  3. Place the fruit in a pot and cover with water.
  4. Add the lemon juice.
  5. Bring the water to a boil and cook the fruit until it's very soft.
  6. Drain and let cool for 5 minutes.
  7. Process the fruit in a food processor or blender until it is smooth, about the consistency of applesauce.
  8. Measure the fruit -- you should have about 2 cups -- and place it in a heavy-bottomed pot.
  1. Add sugar equal to three-fourths of the amount of fruit and stir the sugar into the fruit. (If you have 2 cups of fruit, add 1 1/2 cups of sugar.) 
  2. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. Bring the sugar and fruit to a low boil and simmer, stirring frequently, on low heat.
  4. Cook slowly, keeping the mixture barely at a boil and stirring often to prevent burning, until the mixture thickens.
  5. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is a thick paste that stays together in a ball. The mixture should seem stretchy and almost dry. The fruit will change color and become a bright orange-red.
  6. Pour into a lightly oiled dish and let cool.
  7. Slice when firm.
  8. Fruit paste will keep for several weeks, covered, in the refrigerator.

About Quince

Quince grow in the same way as apples and pears -- on deciduous trees. They are not native to the United States, but they are grown in California. And they are not that easy to find; farmer's markets and boutique grocery stores are your best bet.

Unlike apples and pears, quince do not look appealing, sometimes misshapen and with gray fuzz. That doesn't entice you to eat a quince. And they do not taste good raw and are difficult to eat.

But the pleasure of quince is in the cooking of them. They release a delicious scent as they turn from light yellow to pink. Mixed with sugar and water or wine, quince transforms into a delicate treat. Besides making quince paste, you can pour the mixture over ice cream or yogurt or make it into a pie.