- STEP 1
Peel, quarter and core the quinces and throw them straight into acidulated water (water with the juice of a lemon squeezed in). When they're all done, take them out of the water briefly and weigh them. Put them in a large preserving pan with 1 pint/568 ml of water to each pound/450g of fruit. Simmer gently until pulpy and soft, like apple sauce, but don't let the juice redden - it should be pale. Turn into a scalded jelly bag suspended over a large bowl or jug and allow to drain overnight without pressing the fruit (or you'll get a cloudy jelly). Set aside the pulp in the jelly bag to make membrillo. Weigh the juice, pour it into the cleaned preserving pan, and boil quickly for 20 minutes. This helps preserve the colour. Take it from the heat and stir in, until completely dissolved, 12 0z/340g of sugar to every 1lb/450g of juice. If the juice is very sour, increase the quantity of sugar to 14oz/400g of sugar to every pound of juice.
- STEP 2
Now to make the quince paste from leftover pulp Preheat the oven to 125F/52C. Lightly oil some small ovenproof dishes (or plastic pots if you plan to use a dehydrator) and set aside. Rectangular or square dishes make it easier to cut in neat slices, round ones look handsomer if you plan to turn it out and serve it all of a piece. Put the pulp and sugar in a large pan, stir well to mix and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to cook gently, stirring continuously, until the mixture has thickened to the point where you can see the bottom of the pan when you drag a wooden spoon through it and the quince clings to the spoon. If in any doubt, cook it for a few minutes more but whatever you do, don't stop stirring. It burns very easily.
- STEP 3
Now turn it into your pre-oiled dishes to a depth of 2-3 inches, smooth the top and put it in a low oven, 125F/52C, for about eight hours. If your oven doesn't go this low, prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Or if you have one, use a dehydrator on the same heat setting, putting the dishes on the bottom tray. After eight hours it should be glossy on top and dry to the touch. Allow to cool, cover and store in the fridge. It makes very good sweetmeats if you roll it in a little sugar.