Dulce de Membrillo – Quince Jelly

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are, you are, you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are.”
Pussy said to the Owl “You elegant fowl,
How charmingly sweet you sing.
O let us be married, too long we have tarried;
But what shall we do for a ring?”

They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows,
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose, his nose, his nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling your ring?”
Said the Piggy, “I will”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon.
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand.
They danced by the light of the moon, the moon, the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon

I couldn´t resist quoting the above “nonsense” poem by Edward Lear – after all, how much poetry mentions the beautiful quince?  Aah…such silly romantic nonsense.

Actually, making quince jelly in our house is one of the few cooking adventures we undertake together, so there is a small element of romance to it!  Chopping up a quince is quite tough – fine if you´re only doing one or two, but every year we usually make a huge batch of Carne or Dulce de Membrillo in one go and it takes 3 or four hours. Much easier if there are two of you working together.  I know that autumn is really here, and in fact today was dull, grey and wet, so it was perfect for steaming up the kitchen with beautiful smells.

Making quince jelly is not difficult.  You just need a little patience, a big pot and a sharp knife.  You´ll be rewarded with beautiful jewel coloured jelly which will last for months if kept in the fridge or a cold place and it can be eaten with cheese and hams or on its own as a delicious sugary treat.

Even if you only have one or two quinces, do give this a go as they are very tart unless lots of sugar is added (but also very nice baked with honey, sugar and raisins as a dessert).

For every kilo of prepared fruit, you will need 750g of sugar.  And that´s it, ingredient list over.

Wash the fruit and get prepared with scales, knives, chopping boards and your pot.

Cut into halves, quarters and even eighths if you have small hands to make it easier.

Core and chop into chunks.  I recommend weighing as you go along.

Put the quince into your biggest pot and add the sugar.

This is where the slightly hard work and patience comes in.  Start on the lowest heat and keep turning the quince and sugar with a wooden spoon.  You don´t want them to catch on the bottom of the pot while the sugar is dissolving as this will give your jelly a burnt taste.

Dissolve the sugar slowly (and if anything does burn, just remove the offending chunk).

Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat and bubble gently until the quince has turned mushy and amber coloured. We had two pots of 5 and 3 kg of fruit plus sugar and they took about 30 minutes each from starting to bubble.

Just a bit longer now.

Now remove from the heat and leave to cool for about 10 minutes then blend with a stick blender or mash then pass through a mouli.

Pour into shallow plastic tubs, cover with a cloth until cool and solid then put the lids on.

Store in the fridge until you are ready to enjoy with cheese, nuts, and whatever takes your fancy.  Port, dessert wines and also a good red wine work well I find!

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54 thoughts on “Dulce de Membrillo – Quince Jelly

  1. Hi T, No point asking if you want any quinces! Like how you get your man to do the peeling. A friend of mine puts chopped pistachio nuts in the bottom of a small pot when making this, so when she turns it out all the nuts are on top. Looks pretty and tastes good together.
    Regards Florence x

    1. It´s so easy to make (although I think you can make it more complex to get a clearer jelly and a smoother texture). That involves, peeling, straining and then boiling again with the sugar…a long job!

  2. One of my favourite poems – I love the sound of the crazy words. I would dearly love a runcible spoon. I photographed our neighbour bringing in a wheelbarrow of quinces from his orchard a few weeks ago, but that’s as near as I get to cooking with them. There’s a wonderful Spanish shop in La Rochelle where I buy membrillo, manchego and pata negra. This coast has a strong link with Spain – I believe ETA had an HQ in La Rochelle!

    1. It is a very silly but lovely poem…if you ever come across a runcible spoon, do let me know 😉 Maybe you could beg a few quince from your neighbour? I have a pal in the South of France (other side from you though) and they also have lots of Spanish connections. As you say, some good, some less so 😦

  3. Quince production fell out of favor in the US a century ago, but is being re-discovered now…the small orchard up the road has planted a dozen trees in the last 5 years! May be in the next few, he’ll have enough of a harvest for me to make this…Until then, I’ll have to stick with the imported type to go on my holiday cheese plate!

    1. Thanks Mad Dog – we really love it. I know there are more “sophisticated” ways of making it, but the differences in the results are not so different and when you´re processing so many, it´s quicker this way!

  4. Nice to see other people using quinces too! When I saw them all on my Mum’s tree (Somerset, UK) I couldn’t let them go to waste.
    …..some membrillo, manchego and red wine….if I eat with my eyes closed……I can make believe I’m in Spain!!

  5. I’ve never had quince jelly, Tanya, and never thought much about it — until now, thanks to you! I’m telling you now, I will not be making it. No, I will not! I have plenty of jars of jellies, jams, and ketchup lying about and have no need to add quince to the mix. As tasty as you say it is and as wonderful as it is to make, I just cannot, will not, be making quince jelly. Um … how long are they in season?

    1. You might have to as it´s so good and no jars needed – just a little old Tupperware filled to the brim! And just think, Zia might adore it with a little bit of pecorino…the season has just started, you´ve got a few weeks yet!

  6. I can buy yummy membrillo at the local Mexican markets, and since quinces run *very* expensive its the better deal. Maybe if I win the lottery I’ll actually buy some quinces and try this… or just make it the meal of the week 😉 Mmmm…
    Love the poetry and the pictures – I’m never leery of Lear myself 😉

    1. Since writing this I´ve realised that Membrillo is a very Mexican thing! I guess we´re lucky to get given the fruit but I´d buy it made too if it was so cheap and readily available 🙂 Glad you liked the Lear!

  7. wow…look at all those gorgous containers of jelly!! Loved the poem and even more that you and Big Man shared this romantic jelly making time!! I’m not familiar with the taste and now my interest has peaked tremendously to try it!

  8. I’ve never had quince jelly before, but it sure sounds delicious. Quite the process to make it, but it looks like you’ve got it down. So….wanna share one of those Tupperwares? 😉

  9. My dad used to read me The Owl & The Pussycat every night as my bedtime story! Lovely memories thanks!! That is a lot of membrillo, I’m going to have a go at this year, not on that scale though!!

  10. We only had one quince tree in our orchard and lost it in an ice storm a couple of years ago. When I would have them in a bowl in the kitchen, people always think that they were strange apples. I let friends pick crabapples from two of our trees and they just dropped off three lovely jars of jelly. I so enjoy homemade jelly…the smell is lovely.

  11. It just so happens that I’m reading this while eating some queso fresco with dulce de membrillo and fresh bread. But I still want to make it myself! Yours looks fantastic. I’ll have to try this soon!

  12. OMG it’s really that easy? I’ve been agonising for years because I couldn’t be bothered to spent 10 hours stirring and frowning over the cauldron. Still, stewed quince with good vanilla ice cream is sensational. Also chunks of quince roasted alongside a joint of pork is delicious. Those are particularly fine looking quince as well – DorsetFinca, I’m from Wiltshire, and our quinces were always on the small side too. Made them a real pain to peel and core – but worth it!

    1. It really is that easy – and don´t worry about peeling them (unless you have some really nasty bits which you can just cut out)! Stewed quince are gorgeous – such a beautiful delicate perfumed flavour. Thanks for visiting!

    1. We make a massive batch – kilos and kilos so it takes a couple of hours but for less the time would be cut down. It’s not so dark and sticky as yours but that seems to be how they make it where we live and it keeps for months and months (if you don’t eat it first)!

  13. Oh I see 30 mins. That seems so much better. I just don’t see how it would bubble with just quince peeves and sugar. I must try this but I don’t know when I’ll find more quinces.

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