November 19, 2009


A version  of quince paste in one form or another exists in many cultures. In the Middle East fruit pastes have been served to guests as a sign of hospitality for centuries. In Spain dulce de membrillo is served at breakfast with toast and cream cheese or as tapas with Manchego cheese. In France P√Ęte de coing is one of the thirteen deserts representing Jesus Christ and the twelve apostles served at dinner on Christmas Eve. And in recent years Quince paste has become an ingredient favored by chefs here in the United States.        
Quince paste is perhaps the earliest known preserve. Recipes for it date back to Roman times and versions of it appear in Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery. Marmelo is the Portuguese word for quince and marmelada is quince paste. Marmalade later became the general term for fruits cooked down and preserved in sugar. It wasn’t until the 19th century that Marmalade became a term referring to citrus preserves.
Quince paste usually requires hours of cooking and stirring to prevent burning while reducing the paste to the proper consistency. This wonderful recipe shortens the cooking and stirring by using the microwave oven. The microwave works like a charm, cooking down the hard quinces in a quarter of the time usually required. 


6-8  4 ounce jars

  • 2 lbs quinces
  • 1 cup white wine or apple cider
  • 1 cup sugar / cup of quince puree
  • Glycerin or almond oil (to brush jars)
  1. Peel and core the quinces, carefully removing any woody bits from the core. Cut them into ¾ to 1-inch chunks.
  2. In a large microwave safe bowl place an 8 once canning jar upside down (this prevents the fruit from settling in the middle and burning). Arrange  the fruit evenly around the jar and add the wine. Cover with a vented lid or plastic wrap, which you have pierced a few times. Cook on high for 15 minutes or until quinces are soft when pierced with a skewer.

  3. While the quinces are cooking, start your hot water bath boiling and arrange your canning workspace. Coat this inside of 8 4-ounce jars with glycerin or almond oil.
  4. As the paste thickens it cools and becomes harder to work with, so have you canning jars and equipment ready.

  5. When the quinces are done remove the cover and let cool a bit before placing contents in the bowl of your food processor and pureeing.

  6. Measure your puree; you should have about 3- 4 cups.  Return puree and an equal amount of sugar to your microwave safe bowl.  Return bowl, uncovered this time, to the microwave.  Cook on high for 15-20 minutes, stopping every five minutes to stir (this prevents burning and helps the puree cook evenly).
  7. When done the quince paste will have darkened and be very thick, not so thick that the spoon stands up in but way thicker than applesauce.

  8. Working quickly and carefully (the puree will be very hot) fill your jars, leaving ½ inch headroom. Remove any air bubbles and smooth the top with the back of a spoon.
  9. Seal and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
  • The glycerin,which is a byproduct of vegetable oil, allows the dense paste to release easily from the jar.
  • The 4 ounce jar size produces a perfect disc to serve on a cheese plate.
  • Add quince paste to tangines and stews.
  • Top tarts with thin slices or place slices on the bottom of pies.
  • Serve alongside meat or game.