To poach quinces:
- Rub skins free of fluff, then peel, core and quarter.
- Arrange in an oven-proof dish and cover with sugar syrup (1 cup sugar per 2 cups water), red wine, sugar and spices, or honey, water, lemon juice and vanilla essence.
- Bake at 160C for a couple of hours until tender.
Serve poached quinces with cream or ice cream or pile into a pie dish and cover with short-crust pastry or sponge batter for a delectable autumn dessert.
Membrillo or quince paste is a traditional snack of Spain and is delicious eaten with sheep’s milk cheese.
- 4 lbs quince, washed, peeled, cored, roughly chopped
- 1 vanilla pod, split
- 2 strips lemon peel (no pith)
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice and about 4 cups granulated sugar
Place quince pieces in a large saucepan, cover with water. Add vanilla pod and lemon peel, bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook till pieces are tender, around 30-40 minutes.
Strain water from quince pieces. Discard vanilla pod, but keep lemon peel with quince. Puree in a processor or blender. Measure puree – whatever amount you have, that’s how much sugar you’ll need. Return puree to pan and heat to medium-low, add sugar. Stir with wooden spoon until sugar has dissolved completely. Add lemon juice.
Continue to cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for around 1 hour, until paste is very thick and has a deep orange-pink colour.
Preheat oven to a low 52°C. Line a baking pan with buttered baking paper and pour in the cooked paste. Smooth out the top of paste so it is even. Place in oven for an hour to help it dry. Remove and let cool.
Cut into wedges or squares and eat with Manchego (sheep’s milk cheese).