Homemade Membrillo (Quince Paste)

I told you I was all about the homemade gifts this year. Did you see this gift, and this gift? You could even whip up a batch of this and gift it! Mmmmm, that would be yummy.

With all this homemade gift giving, I can no longer see Gift Central, aka my kitchen table.

It's overrun with wrapping paper and parchment. Glitter and ribbons. Glue guns and bows.

And I may or may not have decorated Walnut already for the holidays. But that's for another day.

Today I bring you the most labor-intensive kitchen project I think I've ever embarked on.

10 hours to make this stuff.

No, for serious. 10 freakin' hours.

But it's good. Damn good. And fresh and sweet and sticky and all the things that membrillo should be.

Now all I need is a giant wheel of Manchego cheese to go with it.

And I'll have myself a giant party. For one.

Incredibly long-winded recipe after the jump...

Membrillo (Quince Paste)

Makes about 10, 6-oz servings / containers. Oh, and the tubs they're pictured in? I "borrowed" those from the olive bar at Whole Foods. Shhhhhh.

Adapted from three different online recipes and then totally finagled with. You can totally half or quarter this recipe since it's all proportions. 

  • 5-6 ripe quince
  • Rind of half a lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla bean

Wash and core quinces, then chop coarsely and place in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the quinces and boil, covered, for about 40 - 50 minutes or until fruit is very soft, easily pierced with a fork. Drain quince.

In batches, process the fruit until very smooth in a blender or cuisinart. Measure the pureed fruit as you return it to the large pot.

To your measured, pureed quince, add an equal measure of sugar and stir to combine in pot. Add lemon rind. Add lemon juice. Add vanilla bean, sliced down the middle with removed prior and poured right into the mix. Return pot to medium-low heat.

Cook, stirring over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the quince paste thickens and has a deep orange / garnet color. This will take round about 90-120 minutes. The consistency you're aiming for is very thick peanut butter - so when you lift the spoon nothing drips, nothing even moves or slides off the spoon. It should be almost like a gel, like Jello-o. The dark color you achieve here is pretty much what your final product will look like - it will not darker much further in the oven.

Transfer cooked paste to a parchment paper lined and lightly greased glass pan and spread paste flat. For this about of quince, I used a 9" by 13" pyrex pan. Place in oven at low heat at about 150 F to 200 F and put a wooden spoon in the oven door so steam can release. Mine needed a few hours to really harden, so check every 45 minutes to an hour to check on its progress. It's done when it is dense to the touch and barely giggles.

As you can see from my photo, mine came out a little on the loose side, mainly because I don't think I cooked it down long enough with the sugar before putting it in the oven. Lesson learned!

To package, slice into squares or use the open end of a glass to make rounds and put in your serving container. I used clear plastic rounds typically found at to-go stations at the grocery store.

Some recipes say this needs to be refrigerated, some say it's fine at room temperature. Most recipes say it's good for up to a year. So I plan on keeping mine in the fridge for up to a year. Honestly, it's mostly sugar and it's been cooked so long there's little chance for bacterial problems as long as you use clean utensils throughout and put the final batch into clean containers.