Quince is a relative of pears and apples. The trees have grown around the Mediterranean and in Asia for more than four thousand years, making it one of the earliest known fruits. This fruit was discovered by the ancient Greek armies in Iran and Asia and brought to Greece. Today quinces are grown on the Greek island of Crete. Quince is also available today in the United States, the Middle East and in Latin America. Quinces in Western Asia are juicier and softer than those in the United States.
Quince varies in different regions and in cold climates, the fruit is rich gold in color, has a heady fragrance, and has a firm shape. The rind is rough and the flesh is hard. In a warmer climate, however the fruit can be eaten raw and the woolly rind is not there. Quince is often used to make jellies because of its tart and astringent flavor.
How to Choose and Store Quinces
Firm, big, yellow quince without any green are the best ones. Handle them carefully because they can bruise. Wrap the fruit in plastic and keep them in the refrigerator for up to a couple of months. Quinces are available from September to January.
Quinces are great for baking, poaching, or stewing, to make dessert recipes. They can also be stewed with meat because the high amount of tannins found in quince helps to tenderize the meat.
Membrillo - A Mexican Specialty
Quince is known as membrillo in Spanish and it is cooked into a firm red paste called dulce de membrillo in Spain, Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, and Mexico. It is served with manchego cheese in sandwiches or on crackers. There is a similar dish in Hungary and also in Portugal.
Dulce de membrillo is especially popular in Mexico and if you enjoy making Mexican recipes, and especially Mexican dessert recipes, you might like to try making this delicacy yourself.
Recipe for Dulce de Membrillo
You will need:
- 4 lbs quince
- 1 vanilla pod
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 cups white sugar
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 strips lemon peel, 2 inches by 1/2 inch
How to make it:
Wash, peel, core and roughly chop the quince and put the pieces in a big pot. Cover the quince with water, and then add the lemon peel. Split the vanilla pod and add it to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer.
Cover the pot and cook the mixture for about half an hour or until the quince is tender. Strain the water. Discard the vanilla. Puree the quince in a blender or food processor.
Measure out the quince puree. You will need the same amount of white sugar. It will be about four cups. Put the quince puree back into the pot and add the sugar. Cook over a low to moderate heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon juice and simmer for about an hour and a half or until the quince paste is deep orange and thick.
Preheat the oven to 125 degrees F. Line an eight by eight inch baking pan with parchment paper, then grease it with melted butter. Pour the quince paste into the prepared pan, and then smooth the top to make it even. Bake for an hour to dry it, and then let it cool. Cut the membrillo into squares and serve it with manchego cheese and bread. Store uneaten membrillo in the refrigerator.Using Quince to Make Delicious Desserts
If you enjoy making easy Mexican recipes you will find the sweeter side of Mexican food a joy to explore. Mexican desserts make use of fruit, chocolate, honey, nuts, and many other ingredients and there are literally hundreds of different Mexican desserts you can make at home.
Mexican Dessert Recipes:The Sweet Side of Mexican Food