It’s another making something post. Blame the season, it is fruitful and hence, so are we.
My Mum and Dad have the most beautiful quince tree in their garden. I’m quite jealous and keep looking round our titchy plot for a place to squeeze one in. In spring they’re covered in delicate tissue paper blossom and in autumn the branches are weighed down with the fragrant furry golden fruit.
There are lots of things you can do with them. At the very least put them in a bowl in your house and enjoy the perfume. I wanted to make better use of the ones my M&D kindly brought round though so thought I’d give membrillo another go.
Basically it’s a quince fruit cheese. I made some last year which despite a few technical difficulties was delicious. We ate it pretty quickly with cheese and cold meats mostly.
I found a different recipe this year to try so Ida and I set to.
First we scrubbed the quinces removing the fluff on them which gives them a slight flocked fruit feel. Then I just chopped them up and slung them in a pan pips, skin and all
Ida helped with the scrubbing but not the chopping as one of the special features of quinces is flesh as hard as iron. Really. Last year I assumed it would be quicker to peel and core the quinces than push the purée through a sieve. Reader – I was wrong. Having done it both ways it’s sieve all the way. Anything than attempt to peel another quince.
Anyway add water to your fruit, not too much, barely covering it and some lemon juice (I used half a lemon) and simmer until mushy (technical term there) then mash (I used a potato masher) and leave to cool.
Due to my various bad time planning and an unexpected toddler disasters I left the pulp overnight to cool which did it no harm at all. If you wanted to make jelly you’d leave it to strain overnight and boil up the liquid but I want all the fruit pulp so need to push it through a sieve with a wooden spoon.
I’d still take this over peeling any day but it does give your arm a workout. Ida was very eager but ineffective. Zeph was pretty good at it but easily distracted. An hour’s stop-and-starting resulted in this;
We measured it in a jug and it was just under two pints. My recipe said we should add 450g of granulated sugar for every 450ml of fruit pulp. I only had a bag so that’s what I added. I seemed to have got a lot more pulp than the recipe seemed to think I would have. Possible due to over vigorous sieving. Hmmm. The book also recommended using the sugar you can get with added pectin. I just added the juice from the other lemon half.
Then stir until the sugar has dissolved, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for at least an hour.
This was slightly complicated by me trying to cook a roast chicken dinner around the process which involved the pot coming off the heat occasionally then going back on. You need the purée to darken and thicken considerably. You do need to keep an eye on it and keep stirring to check it’s not sticking at the bottom.
Eventually mine looked like this;
It still seemed a lot wetter than the photo in the book but I was just tired of the whole thing and wanted to get on. It coated my spoon really thickly and set on a saucer so I figured it might set okay.
I had sterilized some small bowls and an shallow dish in a warm oven and oiled them lightly. Then I ladled gloop everywhere – trying to be even-handed and tidy.
Then leave it overnight to cool and set. This is another place this years recipe differed from last years where I left the trays of fruit cheese in a very low oven overnight.
The next day we tipped out the bowls and wrapped the gleaming jellies in parchment paper parcels.
Now I’ve piled the packages into a shoebox and put it somewhere dry (essential this bit – in my mouldy house) where it’s supposed to mature for 6/8 weeks. If it works out okay I’m hoping to maybe use some as Christmas presents. Of course that does mean not eating it all.
We’ll see. It is a big hit in this house…