Quince Cheese

Quince cheese frequently accompanies a fruit and cheese platter; or is added to savoury dishes to sweeten and enrich the flavours.



The season for quince is late autumn – and it is short! It is around the time when apples and pears, to which they make a great ‘companion’, are abundant. Try an apple and quince crumble.

Quinces are not eaten raw. However, stewed or baked results in a rich, sweet, soft fruit with a beautiful pink colour. When cooked for a long time, they turn into a paste, like a thick jam. This requires about three hours cooking; but, like any jam, you do not need to be present for all this time – you just need to be close by to keep an eye on the process.

Thick quince paste is known in Britain as a ‘fruit cheese’, a term that is used for a ‘cheese’ made with a range of fruits such as damsons and blackberries. In Spain, ‘membrillo’ is the name and it is served with the goats cheese, ‘manchego’; while in Mexico, this Spanish name also refers to a paste made with guava or mango.

Quince makes a good accompaniment to most cheese platters (or sandwiches), the sweet contrasting well with strong and acidic flavours. For Vegan and Dairy Free individuals, this sweet delicacy is a tasty addition to a fruit and nut selection; or cut it into cubes and serve it as an after-dinner sweetmeat with walnuts and a glass of sherry or liqueur.

For dessert, top ice cream, yogurt or cream with quince cheese; or use it in tarts, puddings and crumbles.

For breakfast, quince cheese can be enjoyed as a jam, spread thickly on bread.
In savoury dishes quince cheese is used like redcurrant jelly or cranberry jelly to sweeten a gravy or glaze; or it can be added to fatty meats such as lamb, pork and duck as a fruity counter-note.


Diets for which Quince Cheese is suitable:

Diary Free, Fodmap, Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat, Nut Free, Paleo, Vegetarian and Vegan.

Ingredients

Preparation: 30+ mins | Cooking: 3 hrs | Serves:3+ ramekin moulds

2 quince*
3 cups sugar
2 slices lemon rind
3 tbsp lemon juice

Method

WASH the quinces and chop roughly.
COOK in a saucepan covered in water for 30-40 minutes, until the quinces soften.
STRAIN the fruit and discard the water.
PURÉE in a food processor.
SEIVE to remove the skin and seeds.
MIX the purée, sugar (of equal volume), lemon rind and lemon juice.
COOK over a medium-low heat.
STIR as the sugar dissolves.
COOK until the quince is very thick and has become an orange/pink colour. (Stir occasionally throughout this process to ensure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan or caramelize. I stir about every 10 minutes – more frequently when it thickens near the end of the cooking. It will take a minimum of an hour to cook.)
PREHEAT oven to a very low temperature – 120 C/250 F/Gas 1.
LINE or grease the container. (A 20×20 cm/8×8 inch baking tray lined with baking paper if you are to cut it into cubes; or grease small ramekin dishes if you want little ‘pots’, as pictured.)
FILL tray or ramekins with the quince mix.
BAKE for approximately 1 hour until the paste is firm. (Check it occasionally to ensure it does not overcook and brown.)
HEAT a clean knife in hot water.
LOOSEN the quince paste from the ramekins or slice the paste into cubes.
COVER the cheese and store in the refrigerator or freeze.

Serve

– On a cheese platter or with nuts and fruit.
– Add a fruit flavour and sweetness to a tagine or other savoury dish.
– It freezes well.

Notes

* 2 large quinces will make about 3 cups when cooked and sieved. (For this recipe the volume of quince and sugar is equal, 1:1.). If using other fruit the proportion of sugar to fruit may be different and pectin (or fruit high in pectin) may have to be added. (Note all fruits are not suitable for a Fodmap diet.

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