Before cane sugar, quince was a source of preserved sweetness, used to create jellies, jams, wine, and quince paste for cheese or game. This recipe produces a firm but sweet and sticky paste, which originated in the Iberian peninsula where it is known as membrillo. It’s served with cheese, on crackers, spread on toast or sandwiches, served with breakfast, eaten plain as a sweet confection (and commonly rolled in sugar), served with meats, or used to stuff pastries and spread in cakes.
500-750g granulated sugar
Wash the quince. Roughly chop the fruit but don’t peel or core them. Place in a large pan and barely cover with water. Bring to a simmer and cook until soft and pulpy, adding a little more water if necessary. Leave to stand for several hours.
Rub the contents of the pan through a sieve. Weigh the pulp and return it to the cleaned-out pan, adding an equal weight of sugar. Bring gently to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then simmer gently, stirring frequently, until really thick and glossy (approx one hour). The mixture is ready when it is thick enough to scrape a spoon through and hold for a couple of seconds before the mixture oozes together again.
Decant into sterilised jars and seal with lids. For optimum flavour, allow the quince cheese to mature for 4–6 weeks before using. Eat within 12 months.