Quince paste (longish)
- I thought some of you might be interested in hearing the results of my
experimentation with quince paste.
I didn't follow any specific recipe, but used elements from several
16th cookbooks including Delightes for Ladies (thanks, Katherine!) and
Elinor Fettiplaces Receipt Book.
I started with 2 1/2 pounds of quinces (5 quinces), which I quartered.
I put them in a large pot with water to cover and boiled them for 2
hours. Some cookbooks call for boiling, others for baking.
After 2 hours the quinces were very mushy. I drained and saved the
cooking water, which had all the jelling properties of the quince
I started pressing then through a fine sieve. Next time I will just
wait for them to cool a bit, peel them and extract the cores and just
mush them with a spoon. I didn't manage to get all the skin out of the
pulp this time.
Weighing the pulp, I had a pound and a half. Most of the recipes I
looked at call for equal weights of fruit pulp and sugar and about 4
fluid ounces (1/2 cup) of liquid per pound. This also jibed with a
modern cookbook of Sephardi recipes. I reduced the cooking liquid by
boiling to 3/4 cup, added the pulp and 3 cups (1 1/2 lb.) of sugar.
Then I cooked the pulp over very low heat for about 3 hours, stirring
pretty continuously. Quinces darken from a light pink to deep red as
they cook. I was hoping for the latter but decided to take what I
could get. It didn't redden a great deal before it thickened so much
that I had trouble stirring. I believe if I had added more water and
continued cooking I would have eventually achieved the deep red, but
it was past midnight at that point. It ended up a dark peach color.
I let the paste cool a little then spread it into a 9 x 12 glass pan
that had been lined with plastic wrap. The paste was quite thick and I
had every confidence it would set. I lightly covered the top of the
pan with waxed paper so as to allow air flow while keeping out dust
and/or the contractors that plague my house and let the paste dry out
for several days.
5 days later I very easily turned it out of its pan and cut it into
cubes which I sprinkled with more sugar and packed into a tin,
separating the layer with waxed paper. The paste was rather sticky,
but very firm and cut easily.
I actually haven't tried it yet as Yevsha's been away and they were
his quinces. I'll be interested to see if it keeps "alle the yeare". 2
1/2 pounds of quinces made a great deal of paste, but if it's as good
as I hope, I don't know how long it will last. : )