Quince Membrillo

By Alexandra Stafford
December 3, 2012
11 Comments


Author Notes: Making membrillo is like making bread or soufflé or caramels — when it works, you’re hooked, the dramatic transformation inspiring you to experiment more. When cooked, the flesh of the quince transforms from white to a glorious rose and the once astringent taste becomes sweet and floral. There is nothing tricky about making membrillo — it just takes patience: the quince first simmer for an hour-and-a-half, then cook down with sugar for another hour. Membrillo keeps for months and is such a treat to have on hand this time of year to serve on cheese plates for impromptu gatherings and to give to friends paired with small wedges of various cheeses for holiday gifts. Alexandra Stafford

Makes: 1/2 sheet pan

Ingredients

  • 6 quince
  • 1 lemon
  • 3 cups sugar

Directions

  1. Wash quinces and remove any stickers, fuzz or leaves. Cut straight down around the core to remove the flesh, then cut into big chunks and discard the core. Place quince pieces in a large pot and cover with about 6 cups water. Cut lemon in half and juice into pot. Gently simmer until the pieces are very tender, about 1½ hours. Note: if water boils off so that the quince are not submerged, add enough water to cover the quinces and bring back up to a simmer.
  2. Drain the quince pieces. Pass through a food mill. If you don't have a food mill, purée in a food processor. You should have about 3 cups of purée. While you don't have to, it's helpful to measure the amount of purée you end up with as you want to add an equal amount of sugar in the next step.
  3. Transfer purée to a large non-stick sauté pan. Add about 3 cups of sugar (depending on the amount of puree you measured) and cook over low heat, stirring frequently for about an hour. If you get impatient, it's OK to turn the heat up to medium, but keep a close watch on it and stir frequently. The mixture will thicken and will be rosy in color. It will start bubbling almost as a complete mass and will be shiny when done.
  4. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (It's helpful to use clips of some sort to secure the parchment to the sheet pan.) Spread the quince paste so that it is about a half-inch thick. Smooth with a spatula and try to form into an even rectangle—it most likely will not cover the whole surface area of the pan. Set aside to cool completely.
  5. When cool, transfer parchment paper-filled membrillo to a large cutting board. Fill a large vase or cup with hot water and have a clean towel by your side. Line a glass storage vessel with parchment paper. Cut membrillo into 2x4-inch pieces approximately, dipping the knife into the hot water and drying it off as necessary. Fill one layer of the storage vessel with cut membrillo, top with another layer of parchment and continue filling in this manner until all of the membrillo is cut. Store in the refrigerator for months. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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Reviews (11) Questions (1)

11 Comments

kumalavula October 30, 2017
one year later, i wanted to share a mistake i made that actually allowed me to be more efficient with the recipe as printed above. having made this once before, i didn't revisit the recipe before i launched in to the industrial size bath i made this past weekend. i threw the sugar, quince and lemon all into the pot at the same time and starting the boiling process. only when it was bubbling away did i realize i was supposed to boil/cook the fruit down first and then add the sugar as a secondary step. i fretted about it and wondered if i'd lose all the ingredients in the process but what happened? everything worked out perfectly! it took a little over a hour, and without any water at all, my fruit broke down, the rosy pink color emerged and before i knew it, i was pouring three huge, lined cookie sheets full of membrillo out to be cooled! now i know and thought i'd share with others that you may not need the first (boiling) step.<br />now the issue is how who to give all of this to and how to get it all cut and stored in parchment for the coming weeks of festivities!
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. October 30, 2017
Wow, amazing!! Thanks so much for sharing this. What a time saver. I'm jealous you have so much membrillo on hand to give as gifts — it's so festive. Thanks for writing!
 
xoch January 24, 2017
Hi Alexandra! Membrillo is actually the Spanish word for quince. This dessert is called "ate" in Spanish and translates to quince paste or quince cheese, and can be made with guava/guayaba, apples, tejocote/manzanita and other firm and not-too-sweet fruit. And ate and cheese is a delicious "old school" dessert combo! Love your recipes!
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. January 24, 2017
So interesting! Thanks for sharing this, xoch. I love the idea of trying other fruits here and serving it for dessert — I've only every had/served it as an appetizer. Thanks for your kind words!
 
kumalavula November 8, 2015
this came out perfect! I found quince at the farmer's market and followed the recipe described here with absolutely no problem---who would've thunk it so easy to make membrillo at home? now I've got enough to keep for myself and give away as gifts! I'll be doing this once a year from now on.
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. November 9, 2015
So happy to hear this! Amazingly, there is a quince tree in the front yard of a house a few streets down from me. Yesterday, I knocked on the door, rake in hand (so I could reach the tall branches) and asked if I could take some quince, and they let me! So now I have a beautiful bag of quince on my counter. I cannot wait to make this again. It's one of my favorite things to give as gifts. So happy you liked it too.
 
beejay45 November 2, 2015
Have you ever heard of candy called "Applets and Cotlets" (not sure of my spelling)? This sounds like you are making essentially the same thing but with, I imagine, less sugar. Those things were sugar pills! Wondering if you could put little squares on that culinary rice paper, dust them with powdered sugar and give them as candies. Don't see why not...maybe tuck a pistachio in the middle ;)
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. November 2, 2015
No I haven't! Sounds so good. And I love your idea about the culinary rice paper. I've never used that but have been meaning to. Yum.
 
beejay45 November 3, 2015
It's really the only way to present the really sticky treats from your kitchen. ;)
 
Author Comment
Alexandra S. November 3, 2015
Good to know!
 
Bentley H. March 24, 2013
Thanks for the recipe! It looks great!