Quince is one of the most divisive fruits: you love or hate it, but you can’t be indifferent to it. 40-50 types of quince trees are grown worlwide, 10-15 types are well-known in Hungary, Bereczki and Constantinople quinces are the most widespread. They are not grown in large amounts; typically one or two quince trees are grown in a mixed orchard with other fruit trees.
In spite of its unique flavour and fragrance, many people are averse to quince, this is the reason why it is unfairly neglected. It’s needed to learn to love and to apply in the kitchen. It’s worth eating it raw sometimes since it’s rich in pectin which reduces intestinal inflammation and regulates blood glucose and cholesterol levels and slows its absorption. It promotes digestion, detoxicate the body and strengthen the immune system. It’s a real vitamin C store, in addition excellent source of B1, B2, B3 and vitamin E and rich in minerals (copper, iron, potassium, phosphorous) as well.
Due to its high pectin content, it turns solid if it is cooked with sugar and dehydrated. As a complementary element it can assist in the thickening of other fruit jams and marmalades.
Quince paste or quince cheese – as we call it in Hungary – is the most popular way to prepare this fruit in Hungary. Quince cheese is the Hungarian equivalent of the Spanish membrillo. It takes some time and attention to make it, but the end result is worth the effort.
- sugar 300-800 g (2/3 lb – 1 3/4 lbs) / 1000 g (~2 1/4 lbs) of purée
- lemon juice 1 tbsp. / 1000 g (~2 1/4 lbs) of purée
- walnut or almond (optional)
Cook the cored, roughly chopped (but not peeled) quince in water until the pieces soften.
Drain the water from the quince pieces, and purée the fruits in a food processor or blender.
Add the quince purée back to the pot you cooked it in. Add in the lemon juice and the sugar and cook over low heat, stirring frequently, for about 1-1 1/2 hours, until the quince paste becomes really thick and you can see the bottom of the pot. Stirring is important, because as it thickens, it can burn.
Spoon the quince paste into a baking pan or any kind of baking form lined with foil or parchment paper, smooth the top of the paste to get an even thickness in the pan. You can sprinkle the top with chopped walnut or almond. Let it cool.
After 24-48 hours take the quince paste out of the form or the baking pan, slice it into blocks, put them onto parchment paper and let them dry for 2-3 weeks in a dust-free, dry place.
After the quince paste has completely dried, it can be stored in a paper box for several months.