Sunday, February 22, 2015

Quince paste

My inlaws have a quince tree with so much fruit, some that the birds had gotten to, some on the ground and some way up high. As we were visiting for lunch, the kidlets love exploring their grandparent's garden, running after skinks and picking vegetables from the greenhouse and garden plot.



As I scored 2.5kg of quinces, I needed to do something with them. I have previously poached, baked and made a quince cake but this time, I was going to attempt quince paste. Quinces have a high pectin content, especially from just picked, slightly under ripe fruit that hasn't been refrigerated.

I do love quince paste with cheese, especially an aged cheddar and creamy brie. I found that making quince paste is like making jam. I followed Maggie Beer's recipe for my first attempt but as always tweak it slightly.

 

Ingredients


2.5kg quinces
caster sugar, to equal the weight of puree when cooked
juice of 2 lemons
peel of 1 lemon (this is my addition to the recipe)


Method


1. Wash and quarter the quinces (keep the peel as the pectin is contained in this)

2. Keep the cores and wrap in muslin and cook them with the quinces. (Cutting out the core is a little difficult at first until you get a rhythm of how to best cut these out)

3. In a large heavy based saucepan, pour enough water over the quinces to cover them. Add the lemon peel.

4. Bring to boil then simmer for 30mins until tender enough to puree. (The house will smell amazing at this stage).

5. Drain the quinces, discard the cores in the muslin and weigh the fruit with peel (to check the sugar amount required)

6. Puree the fruit and peel in a food processor

7. Place the puree into a deep heavy based saucepan (I recommend a stock pot) and equal weight of sugar. (I started with 2.5kg, then 2kg of cooked fruit, so this meant 2kg of sugar) 

8. Add the lemon juice and cook over low heat, stirring continuously (for up to 4 hours) or until mixture thickens and turns a deep red colour. You need to stir continuously or else the mixture will explode and pop and stirring stops it from burning.

9. Remove the paste to a biscuit tray lined with baking paper and spread to a 12mm thickness (in my case this was the depth of the biscuit tray 39cm x 26cm).

10. When it cools (about 15 minutes), wet your hands and flatten the surface by gliding your hands over the top of paste removing any ridges and uneven surfaces.

11. Place the tray in an oven on the lowest possible setting and leave to dry overnight. (I used the oven for dinner for an hour beforehand and used the residual heat to dry out the mixture.)

12. When it has set enough to be cut into squares with a hot knife, it is ready to be cooled and stored.




Handy hints


Use a long wooden spoon, you'll need distance as the paste pops, it's hot stuff. I have one from Simon and Johnson that I bought for hubby for our 5th wedding anniversary.

Cut the quinces in half and quarter and core like you would as an apple.

Pack the quince paste between layers of baking paper and wrap in cling wrap as it's quite sticky. 

Store quince paste in an airtight container for up to 1 year.