I’m starting to make homemade Christmas presents for my family and friends in the kitchen this month. The nights are drawing in. The leaves are crackling under foot on my foraging and windy dog walks. Its that time of the year to light the fire snuggle up indoors and get cooking hearty comforting food and bubble up some delicious preserves.
Membrillo also known as dulce de membrillo and fruit cheese is one of my all time favourite preserves to make, eat and give away as presents. It is fantastic partnered up with some great cheese and biscuits on a cheeseboard and will impress your guests with its fantastic fruity flavour and texture. You will enjoy making it but just make sure you can give it an hour of your time. When the fruit puree is ready to have the sugar added, it will need to be stirred regularly preventing the sweet puree from catching (burning) on the bottom of your preserving pan. It needs the same loving care and attention that you would give to stirring up a great risotto.
I used quince and cooking apples for this membrillo and added a bag of dried berries and cherries just to make it that little bit different and exciting to the taste buds.If you can’t get hold of any quinces don’t worry just replace with cooking apples or under ripe pears.
Quinces are as hard as a stone and don’t taste of much until they are cooked when their wonderful aromatic flavour and colour appears in all its glory.
Even sized chunks of fruit, the apple will cook down quicker than the quince. But this is fine as when cooled it all gets whizzed up in the food processor.
- 1.5kg quinces, cored, chopped
- 1.5kg cooking apples,cored, chopped
- 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
- About 800g granulated sugar
- 150g dried berry and cherry mix
- Put the fruit into a preserving pan and add 300ml water. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until the fruit is soft and when the apple has turned pulpy, if using quince that will stay a little firmer. Add a little more water if necessary.
- Turn off the heat and allow the fruit to cool for 10 - 15 minutes.
- Spoon the fruit into a food processor and blend to a smooth puree.
- Spoon all the blended puree out of the food processor bowl back into the preserving pan and over a medium heat add the cinnamon, dried fruit and sugar.(use 350g of sugar to 600ml of fruit puree)
- Bring the puree to the boil, stirring almost continuously (you don't want it to catch on the bottom of the pan and burn). Turn down the heat and allow it to simmer, still stirring regularly for about 50 minutes or until the mixture turns a lovely reddish brown colour and starts coming away from the sides of the pan. Another good way of telling its ready is when you make a channel through the middle of the mixture with the spoon and it will not try to come bak to meet itself. Be aware the mixture can bubble a bit volcanically and spit, if so turn down the heat slightly and use an oven glove when stirring.
- Take off the heat and spoon into the muffin moulds or baking trays lined with baking parchment. This has to be done straight away as the membrillo starts to set quickly at this stage.
- Allow to cool and set over night or for a few days, then wrap in baking parchment with some nice coloured string or wrap in cellophane to make pouch shaped parcels.
- As long as the membrillo stays wrapped and airtight it will easily last for 12 months.
You can find a great selection of dried fruit these days in your local food shops and this fab mixture of dried Flame Raisins, Raisins, Inca berries, Bing berries, Sour Cherries and Blueberries was a great find in my local Lidl… a really tasty colourful mix.
The membillo mixture will get very thick and darken in colour. Silicone muffin moulds work brilliantly for the membrillo as when set they are easy to push out.
Just the perfect shape to pop onto a cheeseboard. Try it with Manchego cheese, a delicious Spanish hard cheese made of sheep’s milk.
The finished membrillos, they taste delicious and I love the addition of the dried berries and cherries!
I hope you have a go at making these little gems! let me know how you get on. I would love to hear from you.