Today I share a Portuguese/Spanish favorite, best served with a strong cheese. Membrillo originated around the 4th century and I hope it lives on forever.
A few weeks ago I cut a big batch of quince. I just love this fruit, high in pectin that you need no binding agents when it is added to any dish. There seems to be two varieties on the island, the old traditional one with very grainy flesh and a more recent arrival here with flesh that is similar to a cooking apple with fuzzy skin and a more robust flavor.
I personally prefer the original variety if you are making quince jam or jelly but to use as a binder the new variety is great as it practically leaves no strong taste or texture when added as a thickener.
For the Membrillo you will first need to prepare your quince.
Rinse the quince and rub them lightly with a soft scouring pad to remove some of the fuzz. Be gentle. Leave the skin on but cut them up into chunks and place them in a large pot covered in water plus the juice of one lemon per three pieces of fruit. After juicing the lemons add them whole as they are to the pot. Bring to boil, cover, lower heat and leave to cook for about an hour until tender. Drain the liquid out and I found the juice delicious, a bit tart but can be added to drinks and cocktails, smoothies and with a bit of honey it will suit the palates of most.
Use a hand blender to purée the fruit to a smooth paste. You will find many recipes to peel the fruit. Don’t because it’s delicious, will give a bigger yield and blends to a smooth paste that you would not even know.
Weigh the paste
Weigh the same quantity of sugar
Add the juice of one lemon per 500g of paste
Tip of a teaspoon vanilla per 500g of paste
Place over medium heat, bring to boil and stir. Reduce heat and let simmer for around 1 1/2 hours on low heat stirring frequently to keep from burning.
The paste will thicken and darken in colour, becomes rosy/amber.
Line a baking dish with parchment paper and brush it lightly with some good oil. Pour the paste into the dish and smooth the surface with a spatula.
Place in the oven for a few hours on minimum heat just to dry out. Refrigerate.
Cut up and serve with a sting cheese and waterbiscuits,
Here I have used gbejna and galletti, and garnished with tulbaghia petals.
I have stored my slab of Membrillo in the freezer. This will keep well for at least one year.