Fig Jam and Quince Preserves

Now that you’ve got the necessary instructions to make some tasty preserves, bookmark these recipes for late summer to fall, when quince and figs are in season. Clara Abello has submitted her version of homemade quince preserves. Called membrillo, it’s a Spanish snack made from quince, a fruit that resembles an apple-pear hybrid. Argentines have a sweeter take on membrillo (theirs has more sugar than fruit), but regardless of how the paste is made, it’s really tasty. It’s not quite jam or jelly, but membrillo’s rich flavor and cool name makes it a fun snack to serve.

If you want to try preserving a fruit you’ve heard of (and that thrives in SoCal), try Clara’s pick for a tasty recipe for fig jam.

Ingredients for Membrillo:

4 pounds quince – washed, peeled, cored, roughly chopped

1 vanilla pod, split (optional)

2 strips (each 1/2 in. by 2 in.) of lemon peel; only use yellow peel, no white pith

3 Tbsp lemon juice

About 4 cups of granulated sugar; exact amount will be determined during cooking

Preparation:

1. Place quince pieces in a large saucepan (6-8 quarts) and cover with water. Add the vanilla pod and lemon peel, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook until the quince pieces are tender (30-40 minutes).

Note: You don’t need to peel the quince before boiling it. In fact, it will be much easier to peel once the pieces have been boiled for a while because it will be soft.

2. Strain the water from the quince pieces. Discard the vanilla pod, but keep the lemon peel with the quince. Purée the quince pieces in a food processor, blender, or by using a food mill. Measure the quince purée. Keep a 3:4 ratio of purée to sugar (i.e. 3 cups of sugar for 4 cups of purée). Return quince purée to the large pan. Heat to medium-low. Add sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon until sugar has completely dissolved. Add lemon juice.

3. Continue to cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 1.5 hours, until the quince paste is very thick and has a deep orange pink color.

4. Preheat oven to a low 125°F (52°C). Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment paper (do not use wax paper, it will melt!). Grease the parchment paper with a thin coating of butter. Pour the cooked quince paste into the parchment paper-lined baking pan. Smooth out the top of the paste so it is even. Place in the oven for about an hour to help it dry. Remove from oven and let cool.

To Serve:

Cut membrillo into squares or wedges and present with Manchego cheese. To eat, take a small slice of the membrillo and spread it on top of a slice of the cheese. Wrap in foil or plastic wrap, and store in refrigerator.

The original recipe can be found here: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/membrillo_quince_paste/

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