Quince season is here once again - my friend sent out the bat-signal to tell me that they ripened early and "I have quince falling to the ground and rotting!" I hadn't been excited about trying quince again this year but not wanting to be bested by a damned furry pear-apple thing, I gamely headed over with Scott and we cleaned up the groundfall and picked the tree clean.
This year, there were far fewer quince - I ended up with 27# of quince. Some of them were quite large - the size of big softballs, with the smallest being tennis ball size. They are almost all entirely yellow - much riper this year than last year, so that heartened me a lot. My friend and her fiance invited us to help them taste test wines for their wedding and we had a nice visit, even cleaning up some of the gorgeous pink flesh apples - again, fewer than last year but still quite yummy. Her apricot tree, so far, is the only fruit tree that really overproduced this year (though the persimmons are still small and unripe - I may end up with another 200# of those this year).
Today, while my friend married her best friend, I quartered and peeled 14# of quince. I cooked the first 4# batch while I continued to clean some more. When the next batch was ready, I strained the first and retained the water, pouring it back into the pot over the next batch of raw quince quarters.
I've ended up with 17 cups of quince puree and a half gallon of gorgeous rose coloured quince juice for jelly. The puree is on the stove - a pretty high 1:1 puree to sugar ratio is recommended by most recipes for membrillo.
My plan this year is to line some shallow cardboard boxes with parchment and to put the cooked down puree into the dehydrator and just leave it there for days at 105 degrees til it sets. This year, gosh darn it, I am going to make membrillo that can be sliced!
Your quince recipes & membrillo making stories welcome as I wait for the puree to cook on super low, wash dishes, watch Season 1 of "Mad Men" and wait for Scott to bring over thai food and beer.
POST-SCRIPT: The dehydrator worked BEAUTIFULLY! I ended up with 9 pounds of quince paste that is sliceable at room temperature, and somewhat spreadable (a bit stiff) - it is so delicious that if I had managed to make it in a commercial kitchen, I believe I would be able to sell it to restaurants (at least one of my chef friends expressed interest). I had the dehydrator at 95-105 degrees F for about a two days - very low energy usage compared to running the oven at 125 for two days, let me tell you!
I highly recommend stovetop-to-dehydrator for making your membrillo - you won't have to fuss and worry about the stove or dread overdoing it in the microwave.