Quince Paste / Dulce de Membrillo (Quince Cheese)

The quince is a peculiar fruit. It is golden-yellow with a slightly fuzzy and lumpy exterior that somewhat resembles an oddly-shaped apple, or pear… if apples and pears were huge, lumpy, fuzzy and terribly difficult to peel. Despite their slightly odd exterior and the fact that they can be a real bother to prepare – again, fuzziness, lumpiness, hardness and sourness aren’t exactly appealing and these fruits do need to be cooked in order to taste good – quinces have a special place in many countries’ culinary and artistic traditions.

At times, it is speculated that in Greek mythology the ‘golden apple’ given to the goddess Aphrodite could’ve actually been a quince (though, others say it could’ve been an orange… or actually just a golden apple). Whether that’s true or not, in Greece, quinces are regularly sold at farmer’s market in autumn/winter and are either cooked with meat, or turned into jams and spoon-sweets. 


In my home country (The Netherlands), quinces seemingly have lost some of their popularity nowadays, but historically they seem to have intrigued both cooks and painters alike as they are frequently featured in 17thcentury still-life paintings – Heck, even Vincent van Gogh was still painting them about two centuries later!
But my recipe today is neither specifically Greek nor Dutch, since similar versions of this confection exist all over the world. Besides jam, or marmalade, I believe the most well-known quince recipe is that for ‘quince paste’ (also known as ‘quince cheese’), which is a very thick sweet jelly made from quince fruit and sugar. 

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To make quince paste, pureed quince is cooked with lots of sugar until the fruit forms a thick paste the color of which can range from golden-yellow, to vibrant pink, or dark brick red. After cooling down, the paste becomes a firm, sliceable quince paste that can be eaten as is, be used in baked goods, or eaten with slices of cheese. Traditionally, in Spain, quince paste or ‘Dulce de Membrillo’ is served with slices of Manchego cheese, but quince paste will be a great accompaniment to any other salty, or strong-flavoured cheese, such as Italian Pecorino, Greek Arseniko, Dutch aged Gouda, or French Camembert.


Quince Paste / Dulce de Membrillo (Quince Cheese)

0.0 rating
  • V
  • VG
  • GF
  • DF
Thick sweet jelly made from quince fruit and sugar.
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:120 mins
  • Freezable:No

Nutrition per portion

  • 2 – 3 large quinces (you need about 1kg after peeling and coring)
  • 50ml lemon juice
  • 600g sugar (for about 900g of puree)
  • Water
  1. Prep: Juice one lemon. Have a large cooking pot ready filled with water and the lemon juice.
  2. Prepare the quinces: Peel and core the quinces and cut them into chunks, or wedges. Place cut quince in the large pot with water and lemon juice.
  3. Pre-cook quinces: Add, or pour out enough water to just cover all the pieces of quince. Place the pot with quinces and water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook for about 20 – 30 minutes until the quinces are soft.
  4. Make quince puree: Drain the quinces and let them cool slightly. Put the softened quince in a food processor and blend until smooth, or use an immersion blender.
  5. Add sugar: Measure the quince puree with a cup, or kitchen scales and add ⅔ the amount, or weight in sugar (ex. I ended up with 900g of quince puree and added 600g sugar).
  6. Cook the puree: Place quince puree and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, or pot and bring to a verysoft simmer on low heat. Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from burning. Once the mixture starts to bubble slightly, continue cooking for 1.5 hours up to 2 hours (depending on how high, or low you prefer to keep the temperature) until the mixture becomes a peach-y pink, or dark red colored thick paste*. To test for the correct texture, dip a spoon into the mixture, or drip some onto a plate. If the mixture firms up when cooled off, its done.
  7. Cool the quince paste: Lightly grease a glass baking dish, or bowl and pour in the fruit mixture. Let the quince paste cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for a day until it firms up.
*Quinces may change color while being cooked, ranging from a light pink to a dark red, but sometimes they just stay a light, caramel-y yellow. When cooking for this recipe, aim and look out for a change in texture (very thick, jelly-like) rather than a color change.  

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