October brings forth quinces, well our friends do - in large carrier bags left at our door - and there’s no better way to make use of them than to make your own Quince jam or Membrillo.
Quinces formed the original ‘marmalade’ from the Portuguese word for quince ‘marmelo’ and pastes were imported into Medieval Britain from Portugal France and Spain and served with rich meats or after a meal.
If you can find them in a greengrocers – supermarkets don’t tend to stock them – look for firm fruit with a golden yellow skin. Fresh from the tree, they tend to be covered in a light, downy fur which should be washed off. Once clean, remove the tough skin with a vegetable peeler – it’s easier and safer than a knife. The flesh of the fruit oxidises rapidly, so squeeze half a lemon or lime over the quinces to stop them from going brown.
We use this recipe from the wonderful Moro cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark.
Cut up 2 kg quinces, place in a large heavy bottomed pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then simmer until the fruit is soft and can be mashed. Strain off any excess water and sieve to get rid of any core or pips. Weigh the puree and add an equal quantity of sugar. Place the puree in the same (but washed) pan and return to the hob over a low heat. You have to stir the mixture, almost constantly, so that it doesn’t catch or burn trying not to burn your stirring arm. Let it bubble slowly until it turns a deep maroon colour – it’s the colour that you are looking for. Taste and add lemon juice if it is very sweet. Pour onto a tray lined with kitchen paper (greaseproof) to a depth of about 3 cms and leave to set in a warm dry place.
When it’s sufficiently cool, cut it up and serve with a hunk of bread, some slices of Manchego cheese and a glass of nutty Amontillado Fino ‘El Tresillo’from Emilio Hidalgo.