Quince cheese

Quinces If, like me, you are now drowning in quince jelly (this is not a bad thing, per se, given that it makes a great gift and will keep in its jar for years), you may be looking for something else to do with your excess quinces. I know my parents have a whole stable filled with them, lined up neatly in cardboard crates. Like apples, the fruits will keep well in a cool, dry and dark place – check on them regularly as you would with apples though, because once one goes bad the rest will soon follow unless you remove it and throw it away immediately.

Membrillo, or quince cheese, is something you may have spotted on fashionable cheeseboards. It’s not a cheese at all, but a lovely heavy, sweet gel made from the flesh of the quince boiled down with sugar. It’s a wonderful contrast to salty cheeses like manchego – one of my favourite midnight snacks is simply a hunk sawn off the end of the piece of parmesan that’s always in the fridge, nibbled with a spoonful of quince cheese. When your quince cheese is ready, it will keep almost indefinitely in the fridge. I preserve mine in jars and spoon out chunks – some people prefer to make it in moulds, chill the moulds and turn the finished membrillo out when cold, then keep the pretty blocks wrapped in greaseproof paper and tin foil.

You’ll need:

3 lb quinces
1 lemon
Granulated sugar (see below for measurements)

Peel and core the quinces and cut them into chunks. Quinces are an abominably tough fruit to work with, so make sure your knife is extremely sharp and be sure to protect your fingers from slips. Put the quince pieces in a large saucepan and cover with water, cover with the lid, then simmer very gently for around three hours until the fruit is soft when poked with a fork. It will have turned a lovely lipstick pink.

Drain the pieces and weigh them, and measure out an equal weight of sugar. Put the quince pieces in the food processor and blitz until you have a paste, then combine the paste with the sugar and the juice and zest of the lemon in a saucepan with a thick bottom (an enamelled cast-iron pan like one from Le Creuset is really useful here). Simmer the mixture over a very, very low flame, stirring until the sugar has all dissolved in the quince paste. Continue to simmer gently without a lid, stirring every now and then to make sure the bottom does not catch, for about two hours, until the paste is a deep red-brown and your spoon will stand up in it.

Spoon the quince cheese into sterilised jars and cover the top with a waxed disc before you put the lid on. The jars will keep in the cupboard pretty much indefinitely, but will need to be refrigerated once opened.

12 Replies to “Quince cheese”

  1. Hi Liz,

    Just want to say that you have a great food blog. Kind of reminds me of my good friend who happens to be a copywriter and a food blogger. I will be back for more. Keep up the good work. =)

  2. Or you can make Ayva Tatlisi(Quince Desert) Cut the half to quinces and remove seeds. Put them to the pan. Add 1/4 glass of water. Put the 4 spoon sugar on to each half quinces and boil them on to the very low temperature. Spinkle 4-6 cloves into the pan and 3-4 seed of quince. When you sure all quinces are cook, take the pan in to cool place.
    Prerapare clotted cream on it and Afiyet Olsun 🙂

  3. Hi Liz,

    Great to read your Quince Cheese and Jelly blog + pictures. Have been experimenting with a tree worth along side Mrs Beeton and picked up lots of tips from you. Will try Ayva Tatlisi tonight!

  4. Hi Julie

    Add some sugar (the amount you use will depend on your taste and how much water you used) and reduce until you have a thin syrup. Chilled, it’s gorgeous on vanilla ice cream.

  5. Thanks for the clear tips. It is wonderful to work with a recipe that specifies things like “Lin on” and “Lid off” 🙂 I’m simmering my Quince Cheese in the Rayburn while I finish off the jelly on the gas hob. Nice to get two products from one batch of fruit.

  6. I have just a few small quinces left now from my bumper harvest. I’ve made jellies and cheeses till the garage is half full of kilner jars. I can’t face peeling these last few pounds. Maybe just more jelly, or some syrup for ice creams?

    Anyone want to be a lovely big Edwardian house with a proper garden and the best quince tree in Hampshire? My Scottish husband wants to move north of the Great Glen and live in the mountains.


  7. HI,
    Thanks for the recipe – can I use under ripe quinces as mine are dropping off the tree before they are ripe such a waste?


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