Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Things with quinces........................

I had and excellent crop of quinces from my garden tree this year - a little over 16 1/2 lbs. 

The variety is Portugal, and produces smallish round golden yellow fruits. Mine has suffered from  some sort of scab this year, but the fruits in the main are sound, and completely usable. I sent a few to  a friend up north for her quince brandy, then made a bottle of my own.
Part of this year's crop was earmarked for this delicious and warming winter drink - well worth a try if you can get hold of quinces - you  only need a couple.
1/2 bottle brandy - any kind
1 1/2 - 2 quinces
spices - for this one I used star anise, vanilla  pod and cinnamon sticks

Wipe the quinces and cut them into quarters, or big chunks; place in a wide necked jar - Kilner or similar. Pour over brandy, add a little sugar ( I used 1 dessertspoonful, but add to taste), pop in the spices, seal the jar and shake. Leave in a cool dark place for a couple of months, shaking occasionally. Will be ready for Yule.

The majority of the fruit was peeled and chopped ( hard on the hands, have a blister now!) and simmered until soft; it's now draining in the colander to cool a little, then will be pureed for membrillo

Membrillo is a Spanish quince paste, traditionally served with Manchego cheese, or you can coat it in sugar and eat as sweets, which is what I have done. The recipe is very easy, and you can used up dmaged fruits by cutting out any bad bits and using the good ones.
Peel core and cut up your quinces, place in a pan with ther ind of one lemon, slices and cover with water; simmer until fruit is soft; drain, and puree the fruit, including the lemon peel. Add lemon juice (I use about 2 tbsp for 2lbs fruit) and stir well.

Weight the puree, then tip back into the rinsed pan, add the same weight of sugar. Put on a  lowish heat to dissolve, then elave to simmer gently until very thick, and a dark pinky orange colour. Very lightly butter a baking tin, pour in the puree and spread level. Leave to dry 24 hours; I left mine overnight, then placed it in a very low oven for a couple of hours - you want a stiffish jelly-like consistency. You can slice and store at this point, or cut into pieces and coat with sugar as I did. Mine is now on the foil over a cooling rack, and I will leave it on top of the rayburn to dry out a wee bit more, before storing it in an airtight tin.    
There were a few quinces still to be used, so they went into the brewing bucket with all the cores, peelings etc from the membrillo, and I added the water they were simmering in too. Sugar, yeast and two sliced lemons were added, all stirred well and covered closely - should be two gallons of good quince wine soon.
Very little waste and a lot got from one crop. The scent in the kitchen is a delightful bonus too :)


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