Sticky, sweet, and perfect with your favorite tapas, Dulce de Membrillo (Quince Paste) is surprisingly easy to make at home! This Spanish sweet is thicker than jelly, enjoy it as is or with crackers. It also pairs perfectly with savory hard cheese such as Manchego cheese.
What Is Membrillo?
Membrillo means quince in Spanish, but often when talking about membrillo it refers to the deliciously sweet sliceable, quince paste that is also called dulce de membrillo. This sweet delicacy originates from Spain, it is eaten all year long, but especially during holidays.
If you are lucky enough to find quince in your market, you must make this three-ingredient membrillo. It is great on crackers, as part of a cheese board, can be used as a pastry filling, and can even be used instead of jelly. Once you have it in your kitchen you'll see the many ways it can be used!
What is Quince?
Quince is a unique and intriguing fruit that may not be as commonly found as some other fruits, but it certainly deserves your attention. It looks like a cross between an apple and a pear. Quince may not be as commonly enjoyed as apples or oranges, but its unique flavor and versatility make it a worthwhile addition to your culinary repertoire. Just remember that it needs to be cooked to become edible, and when you do, you'll be treated to a delightful, fragrant, and sweet-tasting experience. So, keep an eye out for this hidden gem at your local market and explore the world of quince in your kitchen.
1. Appearance and Aroma: Quince looks like a larger, somewhat lumpy yellow pear. Depending on the variety, its skin can either be smooth or have a soft, woolly down.
2. Taste and Texture: Unlike many fruits, quince is not meant to be eaten raw. Its flesh is extremely astringent and sour, making it unpalatable in its natural state. However, don't let this deter you, because when properly cooked, quince transforms into something truly sweet and special.
3. Culinary Transformation: Quince undergoes a remarkable transformation when cooked. Slowly simmered, it turns into a rich deep apricot color. The flavors that emerge are reminiscent of floral honey. Once cooked in sugar it looks similar to guava paste in consistency and color, though it isn’t as floral in taste as guava.
4. Culinary Uses: Quince is a versatile ingredient in the kitchen. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Common applications include making quince paste or membrillo (often paired with cheese), and adding it to enhance the flavor of stews or braised dishes.
5. Availability: Quince is generally available year-round with sporadic short gaps in availability, although locally (New Jersey) I've only found it during the fall.
6. Nutritional information: Quince is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and various antioxidants.
Shopping for Quince
You can find quince in the produce section of the supermarket or specialty markets. You can even ask the produce manager to get you some. Look for quince that are solid and don’t have major bruises or soft spots. If the quince is very green it will have a light fuzz layer, that will come off by washing the fruit. The fuzz will fall off as the quince ripens. When fully ripe, quinces are yellow or golden and have a sweet fragrance and it will take less time to cook,
Quince paste, or membrillo, is made by combining quince with sugar and water, and then cooking it at low heat until it thickens. Quince has a high amount of natural pectin, so it thickens much more than a traditional jam or jelly. It’s often sold in squares or bricks that get sliced before serving!
Three ingredients is all you need to make membrillo. Quince, sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
How to Make Membrillo
Find quince at your farmer's or Asian market or ask the produce manager at your supermarket if he can get you some quince. Peel quince using a vegetable peeler.
Cut quince in half
Remove seeds and place them in a cheesecloth. Create a pouch and tie it with cooking twine. This is our grandmother's trick, the pectin in the seeds will help the dulce de membrillo firm up. Our father told us how our grandmother used to cook quince in sugar and used to wrap the seeds in cheesecloth to thicken the quince jelly. Quince and quince seeds have a high pectin content which allows the mixture to gel. We wanted to stay true to our grandmother's recipe and also use the quince seeds as our thickener.
Cut the quince into medium chunks
Combine quince pieces, sugar, water, and seed pouch in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45-60 minutes.
The quince will turn from a white color to a reddish pinkish color. Let it cool slightly, take the seed pouch out, and puree the quince with an immersion blender or in the food processor until smooth.
Place cooked quince paste in a small glass container or baking dish, cover, let it cool and set in the fridge for at least 3 hours and preferably overnight.
How to Serve Membrillo
Quince de Membrillo is often served in Spain as a tapa (small plate) with sharp manchego cheese or just plain with crackers. We’ve seen it sold in gourmet markets, at Whole Foods, and sometimes in the specialty sections of regular supermarkets. It’s incredibly easy to make at home using quince, lemon, and sugar.
Membrillo means quince in Spanish. Dulce de membrillo or a sweet of quince is a sweet quince paste very popular in Spain.
More Tapas From Spain
- Patatas bravas
- Authentic Spanish Gazpacho
- Hot Chocolate Barcelona Style
- Montadito de Berenjena
- Crema Catalana
- Espinacas a la Catalana
- Pan con Tomate
If you are lucky enough to find quince in your market, you must make this three-ingredient Membrillo. It is great with crackers, and manchego cheese, as a pastry filling and can also be used instead of jelly.
- 2 large quince
- 1 ½ cups of sugar
- 1 tbsp plus two teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 cups of water
- Peel quince and cut in half. See Note 1.
- Remove seeds and place them in a small piece of cheesecloth. Create a pouch and tie it with cooking twine. See note 2
- Cut quince into 1.5" chunks
- In a large saucepan combine quince, sugar, lemon, water, and seed pouch and stir.
- Bring to a boil, lower the heat until it comes to a low boil (where small bubbles come rapidly to the water surface) for 45 - 60 minutes or until all the water has evaporated, the quince has turned into an orange color and the quince is very soft. Stir often with a wooden spoon.
- Let it cool, take out the seed pouch, and puree the quince mixture with an immersion blender or in the food processor until smooth.
- Spread the quince purée into a small glass rectangular, square, or round shallow baking dish for which you have a lid.
- Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or more until the membrillo is set and you can cut it with a knife.
- Serve over crackers, plain, with Manchego or sharp cheddar cheese, or use it as a pastry filling
- Quince is hard, use a vegetable peeler to peel it.
- Quince and its seeds are high in pectin which helps the membrillo come together as a paste. Our grandmother used to make quince paste and include the seeds while cooking. So we are following our family tradition. Make sure you put the seeds in cheesecloth so you don't have to fish them out later.
- Quince is a fruit that looks like a cross between an apple and a pear.
- If the quince is very green it will have a light furry layer, that will come off by washing the fruit. A more yellowish quince means that is riper, it will take less time to cook, but it can still not be eaten raw.
- Quince must always be cooked, it cannot be eaten raw. Raw quince has a rough grainy texture even though it has a slightly floral aroma.
- It is not always easy to find If you are lucky enough to find it, you must try this membrillo recipe.
- Try asking the produce manager of your local supermarket for quince or look for it in farmer's markets, Asian or Middle Eastern markets, or specialty stores. We have also found online stores selling quince but in large quantities.
- Dulce de membrillo looks like is guava-like paste, but tastes very different.
- Dulce de membrillo is made, by cooking the fruit in sugar and a little bit of lemon. Because of its pectin content, dulce de membrillo holds its shape like guava paste and can be cut with a knife.
- When cooked the creamy white quince turns a beautiful reddish-pinkish color
- You can find made-in-Spain dulce membrillo in specialty supermarkets, gourmet food shops, and online.
- In Spain, membrillo is eaten with Manchego cheese. The sharpness of the Manchego cheese and the sweetness of the membrillo complement each other beautifully.
- Membrillo can also be added to soft creamy cheese, to yogurt or as a pastry or pie filling.
This post was originally published on October 23, 2019
- Prep Time: 3 hours 15 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: Spanish
- Serving Size: 1 tbsp
- Calories: 67
- Sugar: 15.6
- Sodium: .5
- Fat: 0
- Saturated Fat: 0
- Unsaturated Fat: 0
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 17.4
- Fiber: .2
- Protein: 0
- Cholesterol: 0
Keywords: Dulce de membrillo, quince, membrillo, Spain, Quince paste,