Tag Archives: membrillo

Persian Quince Jam with Cardamom and Rosewater For Breakfast

27 Oct Persian Quince Jam

Quince are  large yellow knobbly apple-shaped fruits that have a slightly floral flavour and ripen in the Autumn. On the tree they have a white furry layer over their skin that will probably be rubbed off if you see them for sale. You see old Spanish ladies buying  bags full at the market. They will be boiling up huge pots of them to make Carne de Membrillo, a sweet quince paste that is traditionally served with a nice cured Manchego cheese. Chica Andaluza has the recipe if you are interested.

I fancied making something a little different with my very modest single kilo of the fragrant fruit. It’s a very similar thing but comes via Persia to this table.

As I have mentioned before, in the summer we were cooking lunch for an Iranian family for a few weeks. We used to arrive every morning at about 11am  after shopping for the day’s food. As we were unpacking the shopping they would still be finishing off their breakfast. Breakfast was a long and luxurious family occasion that I found fascinating. The table was generously laid with breads, cheeses, fresh fruit, dried fruits, nuts, honey, yoghurt, tahini and cinnamon pancakes that one of the husbands made every day. A bowl of Bran Flakes and a quick cup of coffee it was not.

The family live in different cities all over the world but meet up once a year for a holiday together. On the first night, the Grandma arrived from Paris on a very late flight carrying a huge jar (like 5 litres) of something that looked like homemade chutney or jam. How on earth did she get that through customs? The daughters and granddaughters were very pleased though, it was obviously a family favourite that no holiday would be complete without.

I found out the next morning, when they let me taste some, that it was a very special quince jam that their Grandma had always made that they all loved. It took pride of place every morning on that amazing breakfast table. A perfect match for the cheese, like our very own Dulce de Membrillo.

She didn’t speak any English and my French is very rusty but I managed to get that there was cardamom in there, I could see the little black seeds too. The recipe is obviously a very closely guarded family secret because she always very politely managed to avoid telling me anything more. It was delicious, I can see why she was so protective of it.

So this is a recipe I found on the internet, it tastes very similar but not as good as Grandma’s obviously. The quince flesh turns from a very pale yellow when raw to a bright coral or even a rich ruby-red when cooked. It depends how long you cook it for and how often you open the lid. If you cover the pot with a tea towel and then put on the lid while cooking (and don’t peek) it goes darker like mine. I may have overdone it slightly I think.

Persian Quince Jam Recipe

Makes about 1 large jar, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Turmeric & Saffron

  • I used 4 quince (about 900 g), washed, cored & cubed or sliced (you can peel it too if you like)
  • 250 g sugar
  • 500 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed to open them
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 or 2 tbsp rosewater

Remove any dark bits in the fruit and squeeze half the lemon over the chopped pieces to stop discolouration.

Put the water and sugar in a large saucepan, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 5-7 minutes.  Add a splash more water if it is drying out.

Add the ground cardamom, the bashed cardamom pods and the quince to the sugar syrup, stir well, bring back to the boil and add 2 tbsp lemon juice. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the top with a tea towel then put on the lid. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until reduced and jam-like. Check it very occasionally and stir gently.

Add a tablespoon of rosewater and simmer for another few minutes. Carefully taste and add more rosewater if you like.

Pour or spoon the hot jam into sterilised jars, seal and leave to cool. When cool store in the fridge.

Serve for breakfast with a creamy smooth cheese or yoghurt on toasted bread. Or go for the whole breakfast feast and fill the table with fresh fruit, gorgeous breads, a selection of cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, honey, yoghurt and cinnamon pancakes.

Take the time to sit down and enjoy a long leisurely weekend breakfast.

Braised Quince with Grilled Manchego Cheese

3 Nov DCIM100MEDIA

Manchego & quince is a typically Spanish combination. The contrast of the sharp, cured sheep’s cheese with the jelly like sweet fruit paste called Dulce de Membrillo is a classic tapas dish. Served with triangles of the quince paste on top of triangles of Manchego or even on cocktail sticks a la cheese & pineapple.

To be honest I find the Dulce far to dulce (sweet) and the grainy texture offputting. So when we saw some quince growing I decided to buy one and see if there is another way to prepare it. Speaking to the senora in the market, I asked how you know when they are ripe. She said that you cannot eat them raw and they have to be cooked for along time and then she started talking about, muslin & hanging for days at which point I switched off, I don’t have the patience for that, but I bought one anyway.

Searching the internet for easier ways of preparing quince I came across a gorgeous blog called The Traveler’s Lunchbox which had a fantastically simple recipe for braised quince, which I just had to try..

Braised Quince

Serves 2 – 4 with cheese

  • 1 large quince
  • about 250 ml water
  • 50 gr sugar
  • the zest of 1/2 lemon

First heat the oven to 160degrees. Wash and dry the quince then halve them or cut into wedges. Place in a baking tray and pour the water on top and sprinkle over the sugar and lemon zest. Cover the tray tightly with aluminium foil and roast in the oven for around three hours.

You will know it’s ready when the quince is completely soft and the cooking syrup is a deep ruby-pink – leave them in the oven a bit longer if necessary. Take the tray out of the oven, remove the cooked fruit and strain the syrup into a jar. I didn’t have a lot of syrup as I only roasted one quince but if you do more you can use the syrup as a quince cordial to serve with chilled cava or champagne as an unusual cocktail or in make a jug of the cordial mixed with sparkling water & ice.

To eat the quince, simply remove the papery peel and cut the soft fruit from the core. Serve slivers of the quince on slices of cured Manchego or other strong, sharp cheese. The combination is lovely and the braised fruit is so much easier and tastes fresher and less sweet than the paste/jelly.

For a delicious lunch I drizzled some olive oil over a halfed baguette, added slices of Manchego and the braised quince slivers and put it under a hot grill for a few minutes to melt the cheese. I love finding new ingredients especially when they’re beautiful like this. If you see some in the market buy them and become a fan….

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