Making Membrillo

As promised, last week I made membrillo with the quinces!

What is membrillo, you ask? Membrillo (aka dulce de membrillo, quince paste, quince cheese) is a very thick jam made out of quinces. Quinces are naturally high in pectin, so they can jell easily. Membrillo is traditionally from Spain, but other cultures have their own version of quince jam.

There are several recipes for membrillo online. I ended up using a simple one from The Daring Gourmet. All of the recipes involve simply cooking chopped up quince with copious amounts of sugar.

One of my favorite parts of cooking quince is how they turn red as you cook them. They go from a pale yellow to orange….

…to red!

It’s magical.

I forgot to take a photo of the final red-ness before pureeing the quince, so you get this gross close-up photo of half-pureed quince. It’s so red! How does it do that? According to Harold McGee (via FoodPrint.org), cooking forms anthocyanins. …but why?

After the quince are thoroughly cooked, puree the fruit (I used an immersion blender).

Then spread into a greased 8×8″ pan.

After letting it set for 24-48 hours, you should be able to invert the block of membrillo out onto a plate or cutting board.

My membrillo did not come out of the pan easily. I had to scrape it out of the pan in pieces.

It doesn’t look nearly as pretty as The Daring Gourmet’s did.

But it was still tasty! We ate the membrillo paired with the traditional manchego cheese and crackers. We even made a miniature bougie “charcuterie” board – very fancy!

Did you know that true manchego cheese must be made from milk of (specifically) manchega sheep who live and graze in the La Mancha region of spain?

Delicious!

Foliage Friday: Flowering Quince

Spring has definitely arrived here in Palo Alto. The sun is shining, I can go for a walk outside in a light jacket, and everything is blooming.

I came across this plant in my neighborhood. My dad has the same bush at his house, planted up front by the mailbox.

It looks pretty inconspicuous most of the year, and I forget that it’s there….until it blooms in the spring. The blossoms are just so pretty

This is the flowering quince, aka Chaenomeles (pronounced kee-NO-may-leez). Flowering quince is different from the common quince, Cydonia, which produces larger, edible apple-esque fruit. Chaenomeles is usually grown as an ornamental for its flowers, whereas Cydonia is grown for the fruit. The fruit of Chaenomeles is smaller and, although it is technically edible, it is not very tasty and is really only used for to make jelly or membrillo. I don’t think the Chaenomeles at my dad’s house produces fruit….either I’ve misidentified this plant, or he has one of the non-fruit producing varieties. Both Cydonia and Chaenomeles are in the Rosacea family, along with apples and roses.

Flowering quince blooms in late winter/early spring, similar to forsythia. Neither the flowering quince nor the forsythia in my dad’s yard were blooming last week, but I clipped some forsythia branches and brought them inside to force a bloom.

Forsythia branches just starting to bloom indoors

I completely forgot about the flowering quince! I’m making a mental note to clip some branches next winter/spring. 

And how neat is this flowering quince for bonsai? 

Image source: here

(Bonsai keeps coming up in these Foliage Fridays. I think it’s a sign that I need to finally try it out myself…I’m adding it to my garden goals list.)