Quince Paste

by Laura on December 11, 2010

I went to a fancy grocery store this week in search of liquid pectin and kumquats thinking, They have everything, right?  I struck out, but I certainly had fun.  This kind of shopping is my own personal kid-in-a-candy-store experience: every kind of European butter, clotted cream, an olive bar the size of a swimming pool, gleaming produce of seemingly endless variety all arranged artfully as if no one has ever touched the displays, a whole section of foods from Britain…(Hello, digestive biscuits, my old friend!)  It’s also something akin to walking into a Miro painting for me.  Tony, well-heeled shoppers place seven dollar half gallons of milk into their carts alongside pristine strawberries in the dead of winter.  I could spend hours just walking the aisles, and I did bimble through them rather googly-eyed until I saw quinces.  I haven’t seen one since I lived in England eighteen years ago.  The good people at my usual market seem all too prepared to get giddy with me over things like this.  At the fancy schmancy grocery, however, the produce man standing near me when I found them told me he had never seen anyone so excited about fruit.  I wasn’t even bouncing up and down!

Quinces are bright green yellow, a pome fruit related to both the pear and the apple.  They are too astringent and hard to eat uncooked, but they transform with sugar and heat into something quite bewitching—from chartreuse to ochre to apricot—and their perfume is incomparable.  When I saw them I knew exactly what I was going to do with them.  I have a beautiful wedge of Shepherd’s Way Farms’ Big Woods Blue cheese in my refrigerator, and with quince paste and a little raw honey, I suspect it will be quite a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.

Quince paste, called dulce de membrillo in Spain, is a sweetmeat.  Firmer than a fruit butter, it is sliceable and frequently accompanies manchego or goat cheeses.  I like to eat with a broader range of assertive cheeses like the Big Woods Blue, with crumpets or toast, or cubed into a fool.  (More on those later!)  You’ll find lots of things to tuck or smear quince paste into, elevating otherwise yummy things to even yummier.

Recipe for Grilled Shepherd’s Way Farms’ Big Woods Blue Cheese Sandwich with Quince Paste and Raw Honey here.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: