Membrillo - Quince Jelly
My family has a house in the mountains near Madrid and it is where we all congregate every Christmas. We are completely spoiled in that you only have to walk out of the house to come across wonderful natural ingredients: mushrooms, asparagus, game, fish, nuts, wild fruits and berries. As you may well imagine, I’m very used to cooking with all of these wild ingredients and Christmas is a great time for making preserves for the year ahead which are shared between all the family members. So, back to the point, here is my foolproof recipe for quince jelly.
- 3kg quinces
- 600g caster sugar
- juice of 1 lemon
- 200ml water
1 Wash and core the quinces and then chop into 3-cm pieces. You should end up with about 2 kg of prepared fruit. Put in a large heavy-based pan with the sugar and place over a medium to high heat. Stir the fruit from time to time so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. Quinces are quite hard and unlike other fruits such as strawberries, peaches or oranges, don’t soften or release any liquid as quickly.
2 After about 15 minutes you will see the quince start to caramelize – at this point reduce the heat to low. Continue to cook at this low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1½ hours. After half an hour the quince will start to soften; after another hour it will become more like a paste. It should be dark brown in colour and have reduced to a quarter of the original amount. Add the lemon juice and water and cook for a further 10 minutes.
3 Your jelly is now ready. Pour into clean, sterilized jars; if properly sealed you will be able to keep for at least a year. Alternatively, you can pour into a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Once it has cooled and set firm you can turn out and slice into squares.
SUGGESTION You can also make a softer, more spreadable paste, instead of this firm jelly. Simply add 2 glasses of water to the paste along with the lemon juice and purée with a hand blender until smooth. Continue to cook for another 5–10 minutes and then pour into sterilized jars as before.
OMAR’S NOTE Membrillo goes very well with cheese – in particular our famous Spanish Manchego cheese. I also like to eat membrillo with fresh cottage cheese and olive oil and often use it in cheesecakes too.