Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 1 1/2 hours
Quince is an old fashioned but dearly loved fruit with Provence traditionalists. Quince paste is one of the 13 sweets of the traditional Provence Christmas. It combines well with cheese and is a delicious addition to breakfast. A thin slice of quince paste on top of a buttered toast of thick country bread is close to unbeatable. Quince paste (in French: pâte de coing) preserves well in airtight containers and the color turns darker with age.
In Spain and Spanish speaking Latin America quince paste is known as Membrillo, in Portugal and Brazil as Marmelada.
- 4 ½ lbs (2 kg) quinces
- 2 ½ lbs (1 1/4 kg) sugar
Wash, peel and core the quinces. Chop flesh coarsely. Put cores and peels into a muslin bag and add it to the quince flesh in large pot or pan. The cores and peels in the muslin bag release additional pectin while cooking, thus adding to the firmness of the quince paste. Add enough water to cover the quinces and boil them half covered for 30 to 40 minutes or until the fruit is very soft. Remove the muslin bag.
In the mean time pass the quince flesh through a food mill or press it with a wooden spoon through a colander. Don’t use a food processor as it will result in too fine a texture. You should have about 2 1/2 lbs (1 1/4 kg) of fruit pulp. Add the same weight in sugar to the fruit pulp. Cook stirring over low heat until all the sugar is well dissolved. Continue cooking for about 1 1/2 hours stirring gently every 5 minutes with a wooden spoon until the paste becomes very thick and has a deep orange color. At this point, a wooden spoon drawn into the paste will leave a trail across the bottom of the cooking pot or pan and will stick to the spoon.
Transfer the paste to plastic or aluminum containers spreading it about 1 ½ inch (4 cm) thick. Smooth the top flat. Leave it to cool.
In the Provence, the traditional method of “drying” the quince paste is to leave it in the cupboard for about 7 days. The remaining juices will continue to evaporate and render a dryer aspect to the paste day after day.
Enjoy the quince paste!