Portuguese Kitchen: Marmelada {Quince Paste}

by Andrea on February 2, 2012

Have you ever wandered what to do with a quince fruit?  One of these little beauties:

Certainly, do not try to bite into one.  That would be no bueno, no bueno. I recommend turning them into Portuguese marmelada.  This has nothing to do with marmelade as us Americans or Brits know it.  In fact, marmelada is a quince paste and should be firm enough to slice into it.

Here’s what one of them looks like on the inside:

They resemble an apple or a pear, wouldn’t you say?  But appearance is where the similarities end.  I had never made marmelada, so I Skyped my mom for her recipe.  She was happy to share, and my dad watched on… with his own additional commentary.  The first thing he said was make sure and really remove the pit.  Why yes; I’d assume that was a no brainer. Of course I would remove the pit. Hmm… he really must have little faith in my culinary abilities, or so I thought.  I tackled my five quince by peeling them and pitting them… depitting them (?) nor really sure on the proper term there.  Unlike an apple or a pear, you can’t just use a paring knife to gentle glide around the pit.  In fact, what you’d never guess by looking at it, is that the pit is surrounded by crumbly hard pit bodyguards.  It’s almost like a peach pit when it’s started to get bad and falls apart easily.  So needless to say, this step was way more time intensive than I expected, and now I know why my dad said that I had to make sure and really remove the pit.

Next up, the fun and easy stuff.  Cut up the quince into 1 in cubes.  My two pounds of whole quince fruit resulted in 1.5 lbs of quince cubes.

Then toss them in a pot with half their weight in sugar.  I added 3/4 of pound of sugar.  The last mandatory ingredient is water.  I added just 1 tablespoon to my concoction.  At this point in the conversation, my mom said, oh you could also add cinnamon.  That would be good.  How much cinnamon, mom?  Oh you know, just a bit, says the woman who doesn’t use cookbooks and has all of her recipes memorized. Since I treat all cooking and baking adventures as science experiments, I took out my measuring spoons and added 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.  That’s approximately a bit, wouldn’t you say?  My dad being the good Portuguese man that he is said, don’t forget to add some Port wine.  My mom informed me that it wasn’t necessary.  Well, since my dad was already correct about the pit, and I listen to anyone who tells me to add Port wine to anything, I threw a tablespoon in for good measure.

Pretty!  Now let this cook over Low-Med heat for about 45 minutes.  You want your quince to be really soft.  It will look all yummy, like this:

Using a blender, or my favorite immersion blender, blend the fruit down to a puree.  Put it in a tupperware or glass container and let it sit out over night to set.  I just covered my glass container with paper towel and let it do its magic.

As I already mentioned, once it sets, it should be firm enough that when sliced, it will hold its shape.  The best way to eat this is with a little cheese and fresh bread. I only had cheese, but it was still scrumptious.

In the end, mine was just a smidge too soft.  It still held its shape in the container when I dug in, but it could have been a bit firmer.  I’m going to blame this on the fact that my mom said a spoon of water, and I interpreted that to mean a tablespoon and not teaspoon.  I’m certainly not going to blame it on the extra Port wine that I tossed in!

In conclusion, you now have the makings for a delicious treat, and I need to remember to ask my mom for specific measurements on her recipes.

Marmelada Recipe:
2 pounds of whole quince (will become 1.5 lbs)
3/4 pound of sugar
1 teaspoon of water
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 tablespoon of Port wine


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