Sunday, March 20, 2011

Quince Paste

The last few days have seen me having lots of fun playing with the neighbour's quinces. Being greedy, I wanted to turn them all into paste..but where to start? I had made (er, stirred) some with friends last Autumn, but the memory had flown to the wind and I couldn't remember the specifics of what exactly we did! Turning once again to my beloved Cook's Companion, I opted to follow loosely Stephanie's guidance for the making of some paste.

Fresh quince paste - one day old
As there were plenty to use up, I increased the amounts for the first batch from 8 to 12 quinces and heaved out my largest, heaviest based pot from the back of the cupboard.


The quinces were peeled and chopped - half with core and half without (6/6) and placed into the pot with one cup of water and the juice of one lemon.

The quinces start to oxidize really fast!
They were stewed gently over a low heat with lid on for around 20-30  minutes, until goodly tender and mushy.

Stovetop stewed quince, with water and lemon juice
(My second batch of quinces were stewed in the slow cooker for around 7 hours on low and they surprised me by turning a light shade of red. Of course I didn't take a pic of this beautiful sight! Agh!)

The stewed quinces were then passed through the fine disc on our food mill. It was a little bit of an upper arm workout getting the pulp through as it can be quite stubborn however the food mill coped well with the task.

I would be lost without the food mill in a job like this!
The pulp was then weighed and placed into the (cleaned out) pot along with 3/4 of it's weight in sugar. The pot was then returned to a low heat and stirred gently until the sugar had dissolved.

Adding the sugar to the quince pulp - note how it is still a pale straw colour
It was then allowed to come to a boil (still over a low heat) and stirred regularly as the mixture gradually thickened and changed colour. My book advised that cooking can go on for several (3-4!) hours, and that young, slightly under ripe fruit were best for paste making. I suspected that my fruit was quite a bit more than slightly under ripe..more like prematurely picked, and I found that cooking time was significantly reduced (ie- approx an hour once the sugar had been added).

The changing of colour, slowly, slowly...
The hot, molten lava mixture tends to spit and bubble, so don't place your face in there to examine it like I did, and end up with a hot sugar splatter in your eye! Saying that though, I didn't find it nearly as dangerous as stirring say, a pot of polenta, which I find incredibly painful at times!

The paste will need regular stirring..more often as it thickens as the last thing we want is to let it catch on the bottom of the pan - this is where a non-stick pot is worth it's weight in gold. That, and a long...really long handled wooden spoon!

It is ready when it is hard to push the spoon through and a line left in the mix with the spoon stays there without falling back in on itself.


It will also hold it's shape well on a spoon and form a thick mass that comes away from the sides of the pot.

Observe the colour change!
It is then allowed to cool slightly after which it can be scooped into a greased and baking paper/parchement lined cake tin (any size or shape that takes your fancy. I have even heard of people using silicone muffin trays which would be perfect for indiviual or gift sized serves).


This can then be left to cool and set and if on the particularly squidgy side, allowed to air dry for a few days to reduce moisture. A small cake cooling rack placed on top of the tin, covered with a clean tea towel will keep any flying bugs out while it sets/dries.

The quince paste can then be cut up into squares, wrapped in greaseproof paper and foil and stored in an airtight container in the pantry for up to 6 months.


Serve with good cheese, crackers and fruit.

7 comments:

  1. Yummmmm!

    I LOVE quince paste! Your post has totally taken the 'scary' out of making it...

    Now to make it without the family knowing what I'm doing.....

    March 20, 2011

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  2. Thanks for that. I love how the quinces change colour. If I get hold of some quinces I will try this. I love quince paste.

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  3. Fantastic! I do like a nice rich quince paste with a zesty blue...

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  4. Beeyootiful, Chris, although I hope your eye is ok. I wear welding gloves when I'm stirring the mix - it really does get quite volcanic!

    Our latest thing has been to mix it all together, and then bung it into the oven for a couple of hours, stirring occasionally. It sets to a nice hard paste, and I'm relatively burn-free.. :)

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  5. How does that plain looking old quince come out such a gorgeous colour? I've never played with quinces before but am rather partial to a bit of quince paste goodness. A wedge of cheese and a cracker or ten would hit the spot nicely.

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  6. Fantastic, Shelley! It's not scary at all, just be sure to have comfy shoes on for standing, long sleeves (or gloves!) for stirring and a good book or some music to listen to :)

    The colour change is fascinating, Tania..so hard to believe it will happen, but then all of a sudden, it does!! Have fun :)

    I love hearing different peoples cheese preference, dixie. Myself, well, I can't go past a creamy camembert with quince paste :)

    Ha, the eye is fine, thanks for asking Celia. Welding, gloves, hmm? I have just such a pair that would be ideal for this task ;)
    Love the idea of the oven method..very smart!

    You know, Brydie, I am sure there is a highly technical explanation for this natural phenomenon, but I just think of it as magic! Never less than 10 here, either! ;)

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  7. I tried this thank you. Unfortunately it turned a browny colour before it got to the final stage of cooking. I think the sugar caramelised. Disappointing but will try again, it looks so yummy here :)

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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