The Mighty Quince

Quince is an oddly shaped fruit with a subtle, distinct fragrance. It's not something to eat like a pear but it looks like a knobby version of one. Quince needs to be prepared as a paste or jelly, utilizing all its natural pectin, but then quince achieves its mighty satisfying status in flavor and rose-red color. Quince comes from the Caucasus region, near Iran and Georgia, just like the pomegranate, which I'll cover later today.

I have a medium-sized quince tree, which is very productive. For a while, I didn't know what to do with quince until last year when I began making quince paste. The Spanish call it dulce de membrillo and feature it with manchego cheese.

As quince ripens, the skin turns from green to yellow. Quince have a grey-white fuzz, so the first thing is to give the quince a good scrubbing. Then, place the 4-5 quince in the oven to bake until they're cooked through. Once they've cooled, peel them and remove the seeds. This is somewhat tedious and messy. (Some recipes call for boiling the quince.)

Next, blend the quince in a food processor until the pulp is smooth. Remove to a saucepan, measuring equal amounts of sugar and quince puree. Cook thoroughly, a couple of hours or more. Slowly, the color of the quince mixture will begin to darken.


My wife, Nancy, put some of the liquid quince at this stage over ice cream and she thought it tasted like butterscotch. She decided to save some in a jar for future desserts.

After stovetop cooking, scoop the quince mixture into a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Warm the oven and put the dish in it. Leave it overnight or longer until it begins to turn rose-red. The idea is to let the quince dry out and harden.


Next, with a spatula, try to separate and remove squares of the mixture on to wax paper. The bottom side of the mixture will still be soft but I find that it continues to dry later on. Fold the wax paper to cover the quince paste and refrigerate. It keeps for months and I think it gets better over time. If you want to give some as a holiday gift, place the packet in a plastic bag.


To serve, scrape the paste away from the wax paper and place in a shallow bowl. Surround it with cheese and crackers and fresh fruit for a wonderful appetizer or snack. You won't want to move to the main course.