A Beginners Guide to Making Quince Paste

quince in a box


Our young quince tree pretty much doubles the amount of fruit it produces each year.
This year there are plenty for quince paste, jelly and poached fruit, next year I may be setting up a factory!

Last season the codling moth got there before I did so although the fruit looked gorgeous,  one chop of each revealed a labyrinth of dust and webs, making the fruit inedible.
After much complaining on our radio show, I received a variety of advice and natural remedies, I tried them all, one side of the tree had a coil to deter the moth pheromone and the other side had a pheromone trap to attract the moth.  The stem had a wrap of vaseline encased corrugated cardboard.  I have no idea which one worked, all I know is that we have at least 80 codling moth free quince!

Having only made quince paste once or twice before with varying results, with this many quince at my disposal it seemed necessary to try once again.  I can’t stand in a kitchen stirring a pot of molten sugar and fruit for 3 1/2 hours though so have decided to try the slow cooker approach.  It seems way more sensible. I haven’t bothered to weigh the fruit first and nor have I peeled them.  Why does anyone? Maggie Beer was the first in the Southern Hemisphere to make commercial quince paste and in her recipe she doesn’t peel them so nor will I.

quince stage 1The quince are washed and roughly chopped and then placed in a saucepan with a small amount of water.  A small amount being about 1 litre to around 8 large quince.  The cores I have tied in muslin and put them in as well (extra pectin I think).  This I boiled until the quince are soft.  The water is then poured off, the cores discarded (both can be used for making quince jelly), and the fruit quince stage 2weighed.  Equal quantities of fruit and sugar are then placed in the slow cooker along with the juice of 1 juicy lemon.  The lid on and the mixture
allowed to cook on high for around 6 hours. As there is still a bit of liquid in the pan I allow it to bubble with the lid off.
Towards the end of this cooking I blended the mixture with a hand held blender.

My mixture is a beautiful deep pinky red but still more like jam than paste.

quince stage 4Maggie Beer says “Cook until you can hardly push the spoon through the paste”.
Mine is definitely not that and I wonder whether my slow cooker has had enough heat to really get it to a paste.  It is with this in mind that I transfer the mixture into a heavy based saucepan and continue to cook, stirring, over a lowish heat for a further 20 minutes.  It is thick and it does look like setting so I pour it into a tray lined with buttered baking paper to a depth of around 2cm (ish).  I then leave it in the oven at 50 C for 4 hours until it feels firm and not sticky on top.

Next stop is the fridge to set it even firmer and then it is ready to chop and wrap.  While commercial pastes store well in the pantry, I am not leaving anything to chance so will wrap these pieces in clingfilm and refrigerate until we want them.

quince paste
I am very grateful that the quince season is only once a year and also that I have a quince vodka on hand that has been distilling since last March.  Try it with lots of ice, soda and a slice of two of lime.

 

 

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18 thoughts on “A Beginners Guide to Making Quince Paste

  1. I made mine in a very similar way last year with the only difference that I paused overnight…I did not peel, and it was lovely in the end. I used muffin moulds and some plastic containers (I think yoghurt) and kept the paper in waxed paper in the fridge. it lasted at least three months – I did give some away. Hope you enjoy your paste Helen.

    • Cheeselover was your paste dark or light coloured?
      I read this afternoon that dark coloured paste liike mine is due to skins being left on but I also wonder if it is cooking time as well.

      • Darkish, perhaps not as dark as the bottom picture above. It was rhubarb pink….not rhubarb red!

  2. Hi Helen,
    I don’t know if you know, but whole quince freeze really well. Just rub the fluff off and put in a bag a freeze until you need them.

    • Hi Judy, that is such a good idea. Every time I walk into the kitchen I am confronted by a box of quince that sit waiting…. I need to do some more presserving this weeking.

  3. When Maggie Beer produced quince paste in a box it was dark in colour but I think maybe her plastic tubs a bit lighter.
    I may make another batch next weekend and see what happens re colour although I am not neccessarily saying that light is better – just different.

  4. We have a tree that is over 80years old, it produces around 120kgs a year., This year a notice the quinces are a little smaller due to the draught. However we have some for sale down in Canterbury if anyone is interested $3kg minimum order 5kgs delivered to A Chch west address or collected from our lifestyle property 35mins from Hornby. email address themanorhouse@clear.net.nz

    Have you tried the quince vodka? Helen was talking about it last weekend – perfect for girlie parties I am told

  5. I have been making quince paste for a few years solely in my slow cooker. I rub the fluff off and then quarter and core them but I only put about 1/2 cup – 1 cup of water in. When they are soft enough I use my stick blender and puree them and then weigh the mixture. I add equal amounts of sugar and then cook until dark and gorgeous.Then I pour the mixture straight into small plastic tubs (I sell them at a market) and leave to cool before putting on the lids.
    I’m still using some that I made last year, that are just stored in my pantry cupboard and they are still yummy.

  6. I do the long boil while the quinces are still whole – usually several hours until they develop a really good deep colour. I then do the rest in the microwave to avoid the spitting thing and it comes out after drying not quite as dark as yours, Helen (it looks more like the colour of the photo above the bottom one). I use 1 quantity of quince to 3/4 quantity of sugar as we prefer it not too sweet. My experience is that well packed to exclude oxygen it last pretty much indefinitely and doesn’t even need refrigeration. We don’t get through a vast amount of it so I make more about every four years. It’s as good at the end of that time as it is in the beginning.

  7. I would love to make my own quince paste but have never come across quinces in any shops/supermarkets. Does anyone know where in Auckland I could get some, we are in East Auckland.

    • I bought some yesterday, but I had to travel a bit to get them! I go to Boric Food Market in Kumeu as they always have them at this time of year.

    • Karen, as luck would have it, I was in Fruit World in Greenlane today and they had one tray of quinces ($4.99 a kilo). They were a lot smaller than Boric’s, but on the other hand you don’t have to drive to Kumeu:).