Monday, November 09, 2009

Well known phrases and sayings - No 6

...In which I doubt that the game is worth the candle. (I've been here before, on a similarly long-winded culinary mission. This isn't quite the same. Hmm.)

As mentioned previously the Trelystan quince crop has been excellent this year. Jelly has been made, fruit have been given away and still we find ourselves with a load to process - and there are yet more on the tree.

I rootle around for inspiration in my big book of 'Things to do with Quince'. Quince vodka doesn't quite hit the spot so early in the day - and only requires 2 fruit. I could use another to flavour an apple crumble (that's 3) and maybe puree half a dozen to make a quince pie. That's maybe used up 9 or so. Could try jam or cheese - wait, Dulce de Membrillo: 'Take 4kgs of quince...' That's more like it.

Membrillo. The very word brings to mind the torrid heat of the Spanish plain, the click of cicadas and a plate of nutty manchego cheese served with a wedge of this deep red 'paste'. Perhaps a glass of something chilled too....

I follow Jane Grigson's recipe - probably because I am a lazy person and there is no mention of peeling and coring - I assume all pips and skin get lost in the sieving process. My slide show shows the process; the pictures are nothing to boast about - green sludgy purée turns into sticky red brick.

From start to finish, probably about 5 hours of simmering, straining, sieving, stirring and stirring and stirring. I do my best to interpret Jane Grigson - she is a cookery writer whom I trust - her words are both descriptive and amusing. Therefore I boil and stir until the mixture thickens and candies and leaves the sides of the pan and turns a deep red. I am not surprised when it explodes and pops with what J describes as 'an occasional fat burp'. The fruit and sugar spits ferociously at first and I have to put on my new and clean gardening gloves to avoid being burnt by molten sugar. The whole panfull is a bit volcanic except of smelling of sulphur the kitchen is sweet and perfumed.


After about 2 hours of bubbling and stirring I've had enough, got arm-ache, and scrape the now nearly solid paste into tins to set. Amazingly I've managed to avoid the pan or paste burning. Gosh, it's remarkably sticky and just a little chewy. The flavour? Well, it's sweet but there is also a little acidic tang - a brightness. It definitely tastes of Quince too, even after all that cooking.

Jane Grigson notes that it will keep, stored in granulated sugar in an air-tight box for up to two years. Just as well because this isn't something I'll be making again in a hurry.

12 comments:

Frances said...

Very, very impressive!

rachel said...

Very funny - and reminiscent of my late-night damson chutney experience, when I gave up on all the stirring and first-degree burns and just put the damned lot up into clean jars. At about midnight.

Your sticky paste looks good. How many years will it take you to eat?

Preseli Mags said...

Gosh that looks delicious and what magic turning from green slush to that lovely red colour. I agree with Frances, very impressive!

Nikki-ann said...

Lovely :)

patsy said...

Queen of Quince! Deeply impressed,it looks absolutely gorgeous. Does it taste as good as it looks?

elizabethm said...

Reminds me of my damson cheese experience - took forever, heat, stones, stirring, losing the will to live, looks good but haven't brought myself to taste it yet. Our quince crop was very poor this year and yours was so good!

Eliane said...

I might be wrong because I'm doing this from memory - books in boxes in storage crate in Wales, me in USA. Anyway, I have made this twice and the first time I too followed Jane G. who is usually a star. However I think she added water and it took ages and ages. I seem to remember a Tamsin Day-Lewis recipe that didn't add water or not nearly as much and was consequently a lot quicker but with the same result. But I could be wrong - might be worth checking out though. Oh and it is delicious, esp. with cheese.

Wipso said...

Sounds really yummy. If only I could fit making it in between an odd shortening of two :-) A x

ChrisH said...

Im so impressed by your slideshow and your cooking patience... but aren't you quinced-out now?

Twiglet said...

Looks like a nice little treat to bring out at Christmas time - tiny squares on an elegant plate dusted with icing sugar - yum!

snailbeachshepherdess said...

saw some today in the Ludlow Food centre - it didn't ook as bright as yours - Oh and they had quinces for sale there -they were about the size of a small marrow, pale green and no fur! NO FUR - I ask you!

her at home said...

Fur on qunces blimey SBS what do you grow in your part of the woods!! Mountaineer I admire your skill and perserverance or however one spells sticking power.