Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dulce de Membrillo - Quince 2009

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.


Chile said...

I'd never heard of membrillo until a "Mexico: One Plate at a Time" episode a few years back. Still haven't tried it. I used to have access to a quince tree many years ago and didn't like them for eating. Back then I didn't can. Dang, I wonder if I could sneak in and steal some of those quince...

So, what do you use membrillo for?

Jenn said...

it is for nomnomnom. It is an end in itself. Often served with dry crumbly cheeses, you can just cut into cubes and roll in a bit of sugar and put on a plate... but I'm thinking it might be good as little chocolate dipped cubes or rolled in cacao powder

Kale for Sale said...

Jenn - I've been collecting quince from the farmers' markets, a few here, a few there to experiment with membrillo. I should have thought of you immediately, the canning Queen. I may end up doing quince jam; they're just such a damn curious fruit that I have do something with them. There's also a gnarly old tree of them in the park near our house that I'm in love with. It's like that old tree has magic secrets or something and if I cook the fruit they'll be revealed.

Jenn said...

Oh - quince jam - here's the thing - you can get jelly & jam out of the same batch. Peel, quarter and core the quince, put in a pot covered with about 2" of water - simmer till fork soft.

Then, retain the water separately from the fruit - use the water to make jelly (run through fine mesh strainer) and put the pulp into the cuisinart to puree. Yum!!!

Do a search on recipes - they were used back in medieval times with roasts and chickens and as stuffing - because they are yummy and they didn't have potatoes to put in with their roasts back then! :)

I found some good quince recipes and bookmarked them on delicious.

Shara said...

So what is the key to making qunice paste that isnt too hard to cut? I made some last year but it went really hard. It was ok if you microwaved it before use but then would harden again over time. Is it overcooking that does it?

Jenn said...

Shara - it sounds like you made candy! Since there is SO much sugar in quince paste (like 50/50 sugar/fruit) - microwaving probably runs the risk of going to hard ball stage or something.

If you have access to an Excalibur dehydrator - a friend may loan you one. It worked beautifully!

I'll update my blog posting to include that post script!

Ozoz said...

I made quince paste today....after reading a thousand recipes...well almost.

I made sure I kept the seeds and skins (tied up in cheese cloth) the pieces cooked. I cooked it in my pressure cooker and when it was ready, after 50 minutes, I blended and then strained and cooked down and placed in little ramekins. I let the past cool down completely and then I popped them in the oven at 50 degrees centigrade.

Left them for an hour and they're perfect. Soft but perfeclty sliceable.....great with Manchego empanaditas.....which I will post