QUINCE CHEESE, JELLY AND QUINCE JUICE | Three delicious recipes made from the same batch of quinces
I'm from Provence. At least on my mother's side.
My French grandmother always used to make quince cheese (pâte de coing) in the fall. Although, I always think 'cheese' is a strange word to use. Quince candy is really more accurate. The quince cheese would be dried in the attic and served as one of the traditional 13 desserts at Christmas. Fortunately, my grandmother wrote all her recipes down in a little notebook and, as our quince tree spoiled us with a particularly generous harvest this year, I'm excited to be able to revive this old tradition.
What's the best part? I've worked out how you can get the most out of one batch of quinces, and the results are pretty spectacular. And it's super easy. And insanely delicious.
Basically, it all comes down to juice, jelly and cheese. Go ahead and make a big batch – the same amount of work is involved either way.
My "3 in 1" Quince Recipe
These first steps apply to all three recipes.
1. Take the quinces and, if necessary, rub off any white fuzz before quartering them and chopping them into large slices. You don't need to peel them or remove the cores because you want that extra flavor.
2. Toss them in a pan. The pan needs to be big enough for you to cover the quinces with water without it boiling over.
3. Boil the quince pieces until they're tender. Depending on the variety and thickness, this could take between 45 and 60 minutes.
4. Pour the juice through a fine sieve and MAKE SURE YOU KEEP HOLD OF THE BOILED QUINCE! Sorry for the shouting but this bit is important!
From this point on, you have three options:
Quince cheese & juice
Quince cheese & jelly
Quince cheese, juice & jelly
1. If you've followed the steps above, you already have your quince juice. Take the fluid that you drained from your quinces and use it to fill clean, sterilized bottles. It tastes great mixed with sparkling water. If it isn't sweet enough for you, you can stir in some honey, sugar or agave nectar. Store small quantities in the fridge and consume within a few weeks. You can, of course, sterilize large quantities, this allows you to keep it for at least a year.
It tastes so good though that I never manage to keep the bottles around for more than 24 hours at my house.
1. You can also make quince jelly from the juice. For this you'll need gelling (or jam) sugar with pectin. Mix 900ml (30fl oz) of juice with 500g (18oz) of gelling sugar.
2. Bring to the boil, leave to boil for three minutes and then pour it into clean, sterilized glass jars.
Note: the exact type of gelling sugar will differ from country to country but if you follow the instructions on the packet and adapt the sugar/liquid ratio as needed, it should set nicely.
QUINCE CHEESE/QUINCE CANDY
Much to my dismay, quince cheese doesn't just make itself. And you'll really feel it in your upper arm the next morning because there's a lot stirring involved. But it's soooo worth it, I promise!
1. You'll need the pieces of quince left in your sieve to make the quince cheese. Take the pulp and remove the cores with your fingers (this will be much easier than it would have been before).
2. Puree the quinces with a hand blender or in a liquidizer so that it makes a really fine mixt - it should look a bit like apple sauce. You'll then need to weigh out your fruit puree.
3. Toss it in a large(!) saucepan and add an equal weight of sugar.
4. Bring to the boil at a medium heat, and then you're off: it's time to stir, stir, stir. The second you take a break you'll notice large bubbles start to form in the quince. Those will burst super-quickly and cover your whole kitchen in a lovely coating of fruit puree. Nice! The mixture will also quickly start to stick to the bottom of your saucepan.
5. Eventually - and it could take a good 45 minutes, maybe longer - the mixture will start to change. It will thicken up and get significantly darker. That means it's ready.
6. Spread the mixture onto a baking tray covered in baking paper so that it is approx. 1cm (1/3 of an inch) thick.
7. You can leave it somewhere warm to air-dry, or you can put it in the oven at 100°C (210°F) for three to four hours. It should turn into a soft candy and feel dry to the touch.
8. Cut your quince cheese into diamonds or cubes, or cut out little shapes using cookie cutters. Roll them in some extra-fine or icing sugar (you could also use coconut or ground almonds, but I prefer to keep things classic) and enjoy. You can store them the way you'd store cookies: in tins with parchment paper between the individual layers.
Let me know how it works out?
Love from my quince-y Cottage Garden,