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What is Quince Fruit and why is everyone fascinated by it? Get to know more about this delicious crop, including the Spanish favorite Dulce de Membrillo or Quince Paste.
The Spanish word membrillo in English means quince.
While this type of fruit is very hard to get hold of, all the trouble and effort of finding it is very rewarding once you get to taste all the good things you can do with it.
What is Quince Paste (Dulce de Membrillo)?
Quince paste or Dulce de Membrillo is a type of sweet paste or jam in Spain which is served during breakfast on cheese, crackers, and toast or as a dessert in itself.
Its main ingredient is the quince fruit.
What is Quince Fruit?
Quince or membrillo fruit is a golden yellow fruit that grows from a membrillo tree (Cydonia oblonga.)
It is cultivated in the continents of Europe and Asia. During the fall season, you will find quince trees thriving.
You cannot eat most of the variants of this type of fruit raw. It is going to taste unpleasant and acidic.
When you look at it, the quince fruit is slightly similar to an apple and a pear, with a weight that visually registers as heavier than these two fruits.
However, it is quite known to have a rather unappetizing look. It has an irregular shape unlike its distant fruit relatives and usually has grey specks all over its golden yellow skin.
What it lacks in appearance, this fruit’s nutrients have surely made up for.
Membrillo is a good source of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, and dietary fiber.
Once cooked, the golden yellow color of the quince turns into pink until it reaches deep red. It has a sweet taste and a strong vanilla scent.
Aside from paste, quince is also made into other delectable items such as jelly, butter, candy and marmalade.
It is great for these kinds of food items because it naturally contains a lot of pectins.
On savoury items, the quince fruit works best with proteins such as lamb, duck and turkey. The acidity of the fruit works great in helping tenderize tough meats.
How is Membrillo made?
Learning how to cook quince paste or dulce de membrillo is easy.
Before anything else, you have to remove the skin of your quince fruit. Afterwards, cut it to discard the core.
You have to cook your prepared fruit with sugar and water in low heat – as in making any jam.
You then wait for the mixture to form into a paste. After it cools down, you have your own homemade membrillo ready to be sliced and served.
There are also other quince recipes that call for the paste to be put in the oven at low temperature to dry it out.
How to serve Quince Paste?
There are many ways on how to eat quince paste.
In Spain, it is common to pair dulce de membrillo with Manchego or sheep’s milk cheese.
Manchego cheese comes from the La Mancha region, hence the name. The two ingredients are sliced and placed atop each other, and the marriage of their contrasting flavors are simply phenomenal.
At home, you can prepare a basic dulce de membrillo con queso by slicing some cheese of your choice on toast. Finish off with a generous slice of quince paste on the top layer.
You can also use dulce de membrillo as filling to your pies and tarts. Pasta Frola is one of the desserts that wonderfully incorporate this Spanish sweet with pastry.
Quince paste can be a great addition to your plain ice cream and yoghurt.
Where to buy Quince Paste?
It can be quite a challenge to know where to buy quince paste especially if you are nowhere near the regions where they grow.
In Europe and Asia where small quince trees grow, not a lot of farmers choose to cultivate this fruit because it is not popular.
Once you find some fresh quince fruit in your local market, better buy some and make dulce de membrillo in the comfort of your own kitchen.
Alternatively, you can find readymade quince paste bottles online at international supermarkets. They are also often sold alongside cheese.