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Homemade quince paste recipe

Homemade quince paste recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Preserves
  • Jam

Quince is a deliciously aromatic fruit, which needs to be cooked before using. Serve in place of jam or with cheese.

47 people made this

IngredientsMakes: 1 (23x33cm) block

  • 2kg ripe quinces
  • 1.1kg caster sugar
  • water to cover

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:3hr30min ›Ready in:3hr50min

  1. Wash, peel and core the quinces, reserving the cores and peels. Coarsely chop the flesh and transfer the fruit to a large pan. Wrap the cores and peels in cheesecloth or muslin, tie with kitchen string and add it to the pan. (The peels contain most of the fruit's pectin, which contributes to the firmness of the quince paste.)
  2. Pour in enough water to cover the quinces and boil, half-covered, for 30 to 40 minutes or until the fruit is very soft. Remove the bag of peels and pass the quince flesh through a sieve or food mill. (For best results, don't use a food processor as it will result in too fine a texture.) You should have about 1.1kg of fruit pulp.
  3. Transfer the quince pulp to a saucepan and add the sugar (ideally, you should add the same amount of sugar, by weight, as the fruit pulp). Cook and stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Continue cooking for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the paste becomes very thick and has a deep orange colour. Draw the wooden spoon along the bottom of the saucepan: it should leave a trail and the quince mixture will stick to the spoon.
  4. Lightly grease a 23x33cm or similar sized baking dish. Transfer the quince paste to the baking dish, spreading it about 3.75cm thick. Smooth the top and allow it to cool.
  5. Dry the paste on your lowest oven setting, no more than 50 C / Gas 1/4, for about 1 1/2 hours. Allow the quince paste to cool completely before slicing. (Alternatively, the traditional method of drying the quince paste is to leave it in a cupboard for about 7 days. The remaining juices will continue to evaporate and render a drier paste.)
  6. Store quince paste in an airtight container; the colour will deepen with age.


In Provence, quince paste is often served with cheeses from the Savoy region. In Spain and Portugal, quince paste (Membrillo) is served with manchego. Serve slices of quince paste with cheese or as a breakfast spread.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(10)

Reviews in English (8)

by liamko

I have just moved to a new house, and new country, and am blessed with a number of fruit/nut trees, one being a lovely good sized quince, have tried a number of recipes and this one is the simplest I have come across and easily competes with the rest. Thank You. as an added bonus most of the local comunity do not realise the many uses of this fruit for food and as a herbal remedy, always good to bring somthing new to the table, Thank you again-07 Oct 2008

by Altricious

While preparing another quince recipe I discovered what a royal PITA it is to core and peel quince. So... when I looked at this recipe I decided to invert it. I halved the quinces, put them in a pot and barely covered them with water. Cooked for 40 mins or so until they were soft. Then I scooped them out with a slotted spoon and ran them through a food mill/ fruit and vege strainer aka the thing with the auger and screen that separates flesh from seeds and skins. I strained the liquid that remained and returned it to the pan and reheated it to dissolve the sugar. Remixed it all hot and was left with something the consistency of applesauce. The only thing I had to watch was that the volume of seeds can jam the auger so I had to clear it once. Huge time saver over peeling first, plus less waste.-31 Dec 2011

by Doughgirl8

This was outstanding! I was so excited to see this recipe on here, because I’m crazy about quince. The first time I tried them, I thought, “Where has this fruit been all my life?!” I think I added too much water, though, during the quince cooking stage. Next time I’ll add a couple of cups to start with, and add more if needed. From 4½ pounds of whole quince, I got more than 5 lbs of quince puree! Like I said: too much water. It took a long time to cook down. I spread it into a pan and left it in a 100 degree F oven overnight (we have a “bread proof” cycle that was perfect for this). Wonderful! As good as the membrillo we had in Portugual. Perfect with crusty bread and slices of manchego cheese. It made a ton, so I'm giving away slabs as gifts to a select few!-02 Dec 2009

Traditional Quince Paste With Honey (No Sugar!)

Published: Nov 7, 2019 by Cheryl Magyar · This post may contain affiliate links.

Stewed quince with honey is a recipe of ancient origin, appearing in Roman cookbooks in the late 4th or early 5th century.

Then along came sugar. And it changed everything.

Traditions were lost and new ones were made, making sweetness love at first bite.

Yet, the health risks of eating too much sugar are evident. Around the year 1700, people were eating, on average, about 4.9 grams of sugar a day (4 lbs. per year).

In modern day times, sugar statistics show that the average American consumes 71 grams of sugar every day &ndash that&rsquos 57 pounds a year! Quite an increase and a change in flavor.

But one has to ask, does sugar taste nearly as good as honey?

And how much sweetness do you really need in your life?

In the case of quince, you&rsquoll find that it is already bursting with the aroma of autumn and you will need to add very little. Then you are free to enjoy a generous slice of quince paste, bite after bite.

Homemade Quince Paste or Membrillo: So Easy in the Thermomix Machine

The Farmer&rsquos Market in Old Town Dubrovnik was my first introduction to quince paste. I had never seen a quince. Tasted the paste and thought, &ldquoHmmm. Similar. Different. What is that?&rdquo The language barrier interfered with my understanding, but the lady kept saying, &ldquoJesti sa sirom &rdquo which I knew meant, &ldquoeat with cheese.&rdquo I thought one of us had lost our mind.

So, I bought a small slice wrapped tightly in plastic and tied with a ribbon with a lovely hand-crafted label: Quince. When I met up with Vanja later in the market, I asked him what it was. He had never heard of quince paste, but definitely knew what a quince was. &ldquoIt is made from quince.&rdquo From what? &ldquoFrom quince.&rdquo Clearly, I was completely in a fog as he continued to expound: &ldquoThey grow here and in the fall, and are inedible, but everyone brings them into the house and lines the ledges with them to perfume the air. Haven&rsquot you ever done that?&rdquo

Another blank stare. It was like he was speaking a foreign language. What is a quince? What does it look like? &ldquoRound and hard and yellow.&rdquo What does it smell like? &ldquoA quince.&rdquo What does it resemble? &ldquoWell, maybe an apple or a pear in appearance, but much harder and firmer. Nothing similar in fragrance.&rdquo

I tasted it. It was non-descript. Sweet. Sticky. Definitely a dried fruit, but without clarity of flavour. A bit like an apricot and a raison. I was obsessed. Immediately. Not because I liked the flavour, but because so many others did. Not because I liked the fragrance, but because I didn&rsquot know it, yet.

Get me to my ipad. Well, this trip was in 2003 and I didn&rsquot even have an iphone, let alone an ipad. It was July. Not quince season. All I could find was that it was in the same family as a starfruit. A star fruit is pretty, but also flavourless.

A few years later, I saw my first fresh quince in the Italian Centre Shop. I knew because there was a big, awkwardly written sign in all caps reading: QUINCE. The fruit went immediately to my nose. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

Yes. I kept turning it and sniffing. Breathing more deeply each time to catch just a whisper of the fragrance that was so magical it spelled h-o-m-e in the fall in many Eastern European homes. I almost hyperventilated. Sill, nothing. Vanja&rsquos mother, the thriftiest of the thrifty didn&rsquot do anything with them after they shriveled and had given up the very last gasp of aroma. Into the garbage.

Membrillo, as the quince is called in Spanish, is cooked into a reddish, jelly-like block or firm, reddish paste known as dulce de mambrillo and eaten in sandwiches or paired with their famous Manchego Cheese: a scintillating pairing. And the artisans in Dubrovnik have discovered that international appeal. Yet, I found it non-descript. What was all the fuss about?

Homemade Quince Paste: Let&rsquos Get Started!

Industrious concoctions of liqueurs, jams, tagines and marmalades have been made from quince by various cultures through the centuries.

Through the years, I have found quince paste sold in every credible cheese shop all over the world from Neal&rsquos Yard Dairy at the Borough Market in London to The Cow Girls Creamery at The Ferry Market Building in San Francisco. But, it wasn&rsquot until I started making my own cheese that I developed a little side stash of items that offer a lively accompaniment to certain cheeses I make.

And this December, I reached out to the quince once more at the Italian Centre Shop and brought it to my nose. Expecting nothing. Swoon. Double swoon. Those of you that know the fragrance of a quince, how would you describe it? It is a very strong, exotic floral perfume. Nothing fruity about it. Intoxicating. Addictive. I bought a bunch, came home, and lined them along my kitchen window ledge.

Nothing happened. Each fruit exuded the alluring fragrance, yet the room was too large to hold the scent as the small, intimate country homes in the Balkans could. So, to make quince paste. As each sample of the paste I had tasted was very raisin like (sweet and earthy and definitely lacking clarity) that I needed to make my own from fresh and fragrant quince to understand the addiction. The hoopla. The cha-cha-cha! What all the raving about this pairing was about. In the Mix, a Thermomix Cookbook, complied by Dani Valent has this recipe by Jeff Brady in it.

Homemade Quince Paste: Both the Bowl and the Varoma are used to make this recipe

The peel and core go into the Thermomix bowl with a small amount of water to be cooked and at the same time, will steam the cubed quince fruit on the Varoma tray, above.

The peel and core was chopped finely to most easily release the juices from them as they cook.

Above, uncooked quince cubes steamed and tender quince cubes, below.

Homemade Quince Paste: Straining the Pulp

The skin and cores must be strained to separate the pulp from the juice.

The strained pulp is then placed in cheesecloth and strained some more.

The lot on the left is the juice from the first straining and the lot on the right is the total amount of juice: it measured to be a scant cup.

Homemade Quince Paste: Puréing the Fruit

The tender steamed cubes are added to the juices and puréed.

Homemade Quince Paste: Pulp and Purée Combined with Sugar and cooked a whole lot more!

At this point, the purée is weighed and the sugar added. Then the concoction is cooked, being stirred constantly by the machine, for almost an hour.

Homemade Quince Paste: Preparing the Paste

The colour change was dramatic. The paste was substantial and able to stand on its own, so I filled my cookie pan to the top and was able to secure the open edge with plastic wrap. It was that viscous.

After the paste had cooled completely to room temperature, it came off of the pan with ease. I cut it into 4 &ldquoslabs&rdquo for storing. This paste will last a year or more, if wrapped tightly and kept in a cool place.

Homemade Quince Paste: Tasting and Serving

And the taste? Probably my imagination, but a wee bit brighter than the muddled quince pastes I have sampled throughout my travels around the world. Not as different as I expected, or had hoped. Usually, homemade anything is remarkably better. I guess I had some pretty great quince pastes on my travels. This one had a more pronounced apricot flavour, which I liked. It was still earthy with the complexity of a dark sweet raisin under the apricot notes. It was not addictive and I had no desire whatsoever to eat it on its own. I will add, however, that I did find it absolutely brilliant with my homemade Gruyere. That combination was a bit addictive and I spent a great deal of time cutting the paste and the cheese and stacking them up to chew, taste, and savor.

So, in the end, I have another lovely little addition to my homemade cheese pairing stash. It isn&rsquot necessarily an acquired taste, but it is a taste where your palate has to be at rest. Silent. Patient. And then in goes the cheese with the quince paste. No conversation can be had to appreciate the coupling here. In a quiet little moment, there is a lot to learn about that taste on my tongue.

Simple Homemade Membrillo Recipe (Quince Paste)

When mom brought over some of her latest quince fruit creation I was pleasantly surprised at the flavor and texture. She told me it was quince cheese, but when I went to look it up I discovered that the actual name for it is quince paste or membrillo.

As mentioned in our recent post on how to make quince jam we have a beautiful quince tree in the backyard at our family cottage.

In the last couple of years it has been particularly fruitful and lent itself to lots of experimenting with delicious new recipes.

Last year mom made some apple cider and quince vinegar which was delicious. This year she&rsquos added to her quince jam, quince jam with apples and now this quince paste recipe.

How to Enjoy Quince Membrillo:

  • eat on its own as a snack
  • slice it into small piece and serve with cheese and crackers
  • use it for baking jam-filled cookies such as kiflice.

Once prepared, the homemade membrillo can stay in the freezer in a sealed container or even in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Although you can make this recipe using all quince (5 kg) you can use apples instead of the quince if you don&rsquot have enough.

Mom made this particular batch with apples. You can use any apple that is good for cooking such as Mutsu, Empire, Granny Smith (firm and tart). If you don&rsquot have organic apples, consider peeling them first.

Mom uses the quince skins in her recipe &ndash it is full of natural pectin so you don&rsquot have to add any to the recipe.

Ingredients Needed to Make Quince Paste with Apples:

  • 3 kg quince, cleaned and cubed
  • 2 kg cooking apples &ndash Mutsu, Empire, Granny Smith (ideally organic)
  • 2½ kg brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Juice from one lemon

Note: For a lower sugar option: Replace 1.5 kg of the sugar with Stevia sweetener to taste (check conversion ratio on the package).

Helpful Tools:

How to Make Quince Membrillo:

Wash, cut in quarters then remove core (we leave the skins on). Cut into cubes.

Cook the cubed quince until softened (about 20-30 minutes).

Blend in a blender or handheld mixer.

Stir in sugar while the mixture is hot.

Pour the mixture into a roasting pan. Put uncovered in the oven at 340F for 4 hours, mixing every 30 minutes or so to make sure that it is not burning on the bottom.

To set the membrillo, spread the mixture onto a parchment lined cookie sheet &ndash about 2 inches thick. Place back into the oven at 200F for 4-5 hours.

About half way through, line a second cookie sheet with paper. Place it on top of the membrillo and flip over to help the bottom side dry out.

Remove from oven and let cool completely before cutting.

Your homemade membrillo is all done! Just before serving you can dip the sliced or cubed paste in some coconut, ground walnuts or crystallized sugar.

Customizing the recipe

Using different sweeteners

Using honey

The day my friend came over, we actually made two versions: one with brown sugar and another with a similar weight of honey. The honey version was runnier and lighter, so we decided to add in some gelatin, just in case. I think we should have just let it cook longer to help evaporate off the excess liquid from the honey instead.

I don&rsquot know if the lighter color was a result of the excess liquid not allowing it to caramelize, or if it was only from the addition of the gelatin.

To be honest, I didn&rsquot really care for the version with gelatin. I think I would have preferred it be thinner anyway as the honey-flavored membrillo paired well with homemade yogurt.

Using brown sugar

You can use either white sugar or an unprocessed darker sugar to make membrillo. I usually use a 50/50 mixture of the two.

Keep in mind that a darker sugar will also make a darker looking quince paste.

Using less sugar

While you can reduce the sugar amount slightly, I wouldn&rsquot recommend going below 80% of the weight of the cut quince.

Normally, when calculating how much sugar to use, you should weigh the cut fruit and add the same amount of sugar by weight. So, if you end up with 1 kg of fruit, you add 1 kg of sugar. (I know, it&rsquos a lot!)

While you can reduce this to around 800g of sugar for each kilogram of fruit, it&rsquos not a good idea to lower the amount much more than that. Not only does the sugar help conserve the membrillo paste, but it also helps thicken it more.

Adding other flavors

Traditionally, membrillo only uses the flavors of the quince and lemon. While the lemon juice is primarily added to lower the pH of the paste, it also adds a tangy flavor. You can enhance the lemon flavor even more by adding in the zest of the lemon to your mixture.

While I haven&rsquot tried it myself, I&rsquove seen more Americanized versions of a quince paste that adds vanilla extract. You can definitely try that too!

In one of my experiments, I added in some pumpkin pie spices (mainly cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves). That was a delicious addition that also fits well with the autumn theme. ?

Homemade Quince Paste (Quince Membrillo)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

About a year ago, my mother came to visit my husband and me in Philadelphia and brought us, as always, a delectable basket of goodies. Included amongst the spoils was a plastic container of quince membrillo, something I had seen in specialty shops but had never tasted it. My mother suggested pairing a sliver of the quince paste with a slice of Zamorano cheese (a raw sheep’s milk cheese produced in northwestern Spain), which she also had included in our package.

The combination was delicious. Since her visit I’ve been noticing quince paste everywhere: in more specialty shops, on menus as an accoutrement to cheese plates, and in cookbooks as a candy. Well, last week I was inspired to learn how to make it. I walked down to the Italian Market and visited my favorite produce shop, Anastasio’s. I ordered a case of quince, which are currently in season, picked it up the next day, and got to work. (You don’t have to buy a case–a case contains about 36 quince–but I wanted to make homemade quince jam with the remainder.)

I was more than pleased with the results for a few reasons. Most importantly, the homemade paste evoked a much stronger quince flavor than the packaged version. Secondly, the brilliant red color of the homemade paste is beautiful and much more appealing than the deep, dark maroon hue of the store-bought. And thirdly, I made enough quince paste to use as gifts for three different friends with more than enough remaining for my husband and me to enjoy at home. A gift of a nicely packaged piece of quince paste paired with a nicely wrapped piece of Zamorano or similar hard Spanish cheese such as Manchego or Roncal makes for a lovely and unique house-warming gift.

Quince Paste (Membrillo) Recipe

Place quince in a large pot or dutch oven and add enough water to completely cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until a paring knife can be inserted into middle of quince pieces with no resistance, about 45 minutes.

Drain quince and transfer to a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer quince purée into now empty dutch oven. Stir in sugar and lemon juice, if using. Bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook until paste has thickened and turned an orange-pink color, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 150°F. Line a 8- by 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper. Pour quince paste into pan, smoothing out top with the back of a spoon. Transfer quince paste to oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Store quince paste in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Homemade Quince Paste

For those who need help envisioning a quince, here is a description from my 9-year-old son: “Quince are so annoying. They’re like yellow, short, apple-ish pears. And why are they so fuzzy?” Ah-ha-ha *cough, cough* Wait – I admit quince are annoying. Not only are they strange-looking, fuzzy, and hard to come by, but they must be cooked before being eaten, and they are very, very hard to cut into.

Still, I seek some out every autumn. Without fail. I ADORE quince. The effort to find and prepare them is absolutely made up for in the rewards of flavour, aroma, and cook-satisfaction. AND I know a trick to make peeling and chopping quince much easier. So, let’s start this post again:

It’s quince season and you are about to get jazzed to use this GLORIOUS fruit!

First and most important, quince have an incomparable aroma and a delicious tart flavour. Quince are in the rose family – this may explain why I have known some cooks to compared the flavour of quince to the aroma of a rose. But that’s not accurate. Quince tastes how roses would smell after they have been mixed with red wine, guava, tangerine juice, and cardamom… possibly. It’s difficult to describe the perfumed flavour of a quince with any accuracy. (See, you’re already thinking about where to find some now, aren’t you?)

Next, quince are magical to cook with. As they cook, they slowly turn from white to rose-pink to jewel-toned burgundy by a mysterious process I call medieval magic* (and which other people may have a scientific name for). And as they cook, they fill your kitchen with their delicious perfume.

(Anyone who has tried cutting a quince will appreciate how difficult it is to cut one like in the picture here. Scroll down to the recipe for my awesome tip on how to do this!)

Adding to my personal kitchen joy, quince are a fruit of medieval significance. Old World literature is loaded with references to quince recipes for quince are at least a hundred years old, most often several hundred. Preparing quince, I can imagine that I am preserving the harvest with epic peasant cooking skills, not unlike a beautiful Spanish senorita in the medieval Andalusian countryside (did I just say that out loud?).

I love the medieval look and feel of quince so much that I want to make it a rule that you can only cook them while listening to a Loreena McKennitt album.

Quince are easy to find in Victoria. Various farm market stands will carry them in season, as do a few stellar grocery stores (The Root Cellar, I am looking at you). Many people have quince trees growing in their yards around town and don’t want to deal with a fruit they can’t eat raw – ask around. My sources in the past have included these quince-tree-owning ‘friends’ and neighbours, a stint volunteer-picking with the Fruit Tree Project (where you get to take home some of the fruit you picked), and farm stores such as Dan’s Country Market on Oldfield Rd. Once you know what quince are, you will notice them available for sale in the fall in many locations. So, despite being difficult and unusual, quince have enough fans out there to keep the commercial distribution alive.

Although almost unknown in North America, quince are still used heavily in Spain and North Africa, where multiple varieties are grown. Spanish quince is almost always made into membrillo, a ruby red paste usually eaten with cheese. In North Africa, certain varieties of quince can be eaten raw (I tried some in Morocco!) and others are cooked into tajines with spices and meat. I will make a quince tajine one day, that I know. (Update: I did make a tajine with quince! I did!)

But for today, I am making quince paste. Simple, straight-forward, and with multiple uses. Yes, it takes most of a day, but most of that time is hands-off, while the rose-guava perfume of cooking quince fills your home with its magic.

*The only other fruit I know of that does this is guava, and guava paste is known as membriyo in the Phillipines, a former Spanish colony that would have known about the Spanish quince membrillo (see above). Wheels within wheels, people.

Homemade Quince Paste
This is an adaptable recipe. Make it with however many quince you have. Start this recipe in the morning so you have enough time to complete it. OR make the recipe up to step 3, and then start the process again on day 2. I don’t add any spices to quince because their flavour is so multi-layered and delicious on their own.
NOTE: Baking the whole quince for 30 minutes first makes them worlds easier to peel, chop, core. In short, bake the quince first turns Quince Paste from a nice recipe idea into something you may actually make!

fresh quince

Preheat oven to 350 F. Wash the quince in running water to remove the fuzz. Arrange upright on a rimmed baking sheet. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, until the skins turn a brownish shade. Remove from the oven and let cool enough to handle.

Use a sharp paring knife or a peeler to scrape off the skins (some of skins may rub off in your hands, but not all of them).

Alternatively, leave the peels on but be prepared to push your cooked quince through a sieve or food mill later. It depends what you’d rather do: peel now, or food mill later?
Cut the quince flesh away from the cores and roughly chop the quince. Place the quince pieces in a large pot as you go. (The peels can be used as well, to make Paradise Jelly.)

When you are all done, add enough water to the quince pot so that you can just see the water through the top layer of quince. Place pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 20 to 30 minutes, until quince is completely soft and mixture dissolves into the texture of applesauce when stirred vigorously with a wooden spoon.

Or, you can blend mixture using an immersion blender or food processor, if desired. (If you have left any peels of bits of core on the quince, now is the time to run the mixture, in batches, through a food mill).

Quince mixture can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for up to 3 days before proceeding with the next stage of the recipe.

Measure how much quince ‘sauce’ you have. For every 3 cups of quince sauce, add 1 cup of sugar. Place the quince sauce and sugar in a pot with a heavy bottom (possibly this is the same pot you have already been using). Mix well and return the pot to the heat. Turn on low and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Taste the sauce at this point. It should be quince-flavoured with a nice balance of sweet and tart. If the sauce is too tart for your liking, add more sugar to taste. If you like more tartness, add some lemon juice.

Preheat oven to 275 F. Continue cooking quince sauce on low heat until too thick. By too thick, I mean when the sauce is thick enough to have volcanic explosions of hot quince sauce come out of the pot as it bubbles. At this point (preferably, just before this point), transfer the quince sauce to a large glass or ceramic casserole dish (I always use my lasagne pan).

Place in the oven and bake, stirring occasionally (paying especial attention to the edges and corners of the pan while stirring) for 4 to 6 hours, until the paste is burgundy-coloured and thick. Remove pan to cooling rack and immediately scoop the paste into hot, sterilized small canning jars. Twist the lids on and let cool. Keep once jar of quince in the fridge and pack the rest in the freezer.

When I made this, I had 8 cups of quince sauce, which turned into about 3 or 4 cups of paste. If you like, you can pull the quince out of the oven before it has gotten to the paste stage – when it is more like a “butter” (as in apple butter). Place quince butter in canning jars and freeze OR process in a hot water bath.

Serve quince paste with a platter or bread, cheese, and charcuterie. Or spread on toast or biscuits and just eat as is. Softer quince ‘butter’ can be stirred into yogurt and porridge, spread on crepes or pancakes, or mixed into salad dressing for spinach-blue cheese salad. Either can be stirred into fruit mixtures that are destined for a pie or crisp to add a layer of deliciousness unparalleled.

How to make Spanish quince paste

I have always wondered how it is possible to obtain something so delicious as quince paste from a fruit so tough you cannot even eat raw. But cooking makes almost everything possible, even little miracles such as this one.

I believe quince is a forgotten gem. True that its raw flesh is tough as cork, but when appropriately cooked, few things are comparable to the scent of quince. To me, it means 100% autumn. But it’s also an early reminder of how fast the Xmas season is approaching.

This recipe is still my favourite way to eat quince. It has been for as far as I remember, since I was a child and I would eat my mum’s homemade ‘carne de membrillo’ (quince paste), made with fruit from my parents’ very own quince tree.

I always eat the quince paste together with a good piece of either a cured or a semi-cured Spanish cheese. The classic combination is to have it with Manchego, although I personally love it together with some of the northern varieties of sheep milk cheese such as Roncal or even smoked Idiazabal.
However, quince paste works equally well with other creamier cheeses. As the ever-knowledgeable Nigel Slater mentions in one of his articles for the Guardian I wouldn’t stop at the firm Spanish cheeses that this slightly gritty amber spread traditionally accompanies. The sweet paste shines with goat’s cheeses and blues alike. I like the idea of making a tiny parcel of blue cheese, wrapping it in pastry and serving it with membrillo, as quince paste is known, on the side.”



  1. Wash the quinces thoroughly to remove all the external natural fluff from the skin.
  2. Put the quinces in a big cooking pot and cover them with water. Bring to boil and cook for around 10 minutes until the quinces skin starts cracking.
  3. Take the quinces out, let them cool down and once cold, cut them in pieces disregarding the cores.
  4. Weight the chopped quinces and place them in a pot with the same amount of brown sugar and the juice of a lemon for every two kilos of quince.
  5. Cook over a medium heat – stirring constantly – until you see foam forming on the surface. Eventually, this foam will disappear and it’s at that point when the quince will be done, usually after 30-40 minutes approx.
  6. Take off the heat and blend well with a stick blender. Pour the paste into medium-size storage containers and let them cool down. Once cold, cover the containers. You can store them in a dry area or freeze them if you want.

Use quinces which have a bright yellow, smooth and stainless skin. If possible, choose the ones that don’t have any of the natural velvety fluff that sometimes appears on their skin.

Some people peel the quince. I personally don’t see the point because the quince skin is a natural jellifying and if you decide to remove it, you’ll need to replace it with a different jellifying such as agar agar. So why would you remove something natural to the fruit and replace it with something alien to it? I makes no sense to me.

If you decide to freeze it, you can easily have quince paste for the whole year, as it keeps very well frozen.

What’s your favourite homemade crackers to serve with your cheese board?


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