Homemade Membrillo or Quince Paste

While scouring grocery stores last week in search of pumpkin puree and figs (to make jam, but I’m too late; they’re gone), I came across quinces. Had these quinces not been labeled, I would have walked right past them, as I’m oft to do with some of the other exotic and puzzling produce that I come across. My only familiarity to quince is from membrillo, or quince paste, which often accompanies cheese boards. I love membrillo and have bought it from gourmet grocery stores, but it’s extremely expensive for a small container. I had no idea how to make quince paste from these large, lumpy, and furry massive fruits, but figured I’d find a recipe online.

I bought four quinces, figuring that would be enough to make something and headed home to my computer. I found hundreds of recipes, all slightly different. Some called for peeling, then poaching the fruit, while others recommended roasting it. From what I read, the fruit is quite worthless unless you cook it first. I opted for the roasting method, hoping to avoid the peeling step, and modified a recipe from Gourmet (January, 1998). 

My only alteration to the recipe below is that in step six, you wait until the liquid has turned a deep reddish hue. My quince paste is a little on the pinkish side as opposed to the deep, dark red that it should be. Regardless of the color, it tastes fantastic and was a hit at our Thanksgiving.

In addition to finding lots of recipes, I also found the history of quinces interesting. Here’s a snippet of quince trivia, which might come in hand if you’re ever playing the game Foodie Fight.



4 medium quinces (about 2 pounds total)
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
2 to 3 cups sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly oil a 1-quart terrine and line with buttered parchment. (I used a mini loaf pan instead.)

Mini loaf as a terrine (I only needed one)

2. Scrub quinces and pat dry. (My quinces had a strange, furry coating that I rubbed off). In a small roasting pan bake quinces, covered with foil, in middle of oven until tender, about 2 hours, and transfer pan to a rack.

After quinces have roasted

3. When quinces are cool enough to handle, with a sharp knife peel, quarter, and core them.
4. In a food processor puree pulp with 1/4 cup water until smooth (if mixture is too thick, add remaining 1/4 cup water a little at a time, as needed). Force puree through a large fine sieve or cheese cloth into a liquid cup measure and measure amount of puree.

Into the food processor

5. Transfer puree to a 3-quart heavy saucepan and add an equivalent amount of sugar.

I ended up adding 2 cups of sugar

6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Cook quince puree over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened and begins to pull away from side of pan, about 25 minutes. (Keep stirring until the liquid has turned a deep reddish color).

I should have waited until the color was a deeper reddish

7. Pour puree into terrine, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Place in the oven for 1 hour and 30 minutes to further dry the quince paste. Cool and chill puree, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until set, about 4 hours.

Paste in the terrine

8. Run a thin knife around sides of terrine and invert quince paste onto a platter. (Quince paste keeps, wrapped well in wax paper and then plastic wrap and chilled, 3 months–I’ve also read that it keeps indefinitely. The sugar works as a preservative).

After 4 hours in the refrigerator
Finished product

9. Slice paste and serve with cheese and crackers.

The cheese board
Served with homemade crackers

Makes about 2 1/4 pounds quince paste.

16 thoughts on “Homemade Membrillo or Quince Paste

  1. You are making my mouth water and I would have never tried this before but now I am a new adventurous old man.. Where can I get it locally as I know Ann aka your mother is not going to attempt this.. Loved the pictures and the story line..Joep

    1. I’m VERY jealous of the passion fruit you took pictures of on your front porch (or something like that). I’m assuming that was in SD? I bought a couple of them a long while back to make some kind of a sauce and they about broke the bank but are so worth it.

      1. I wish they would be able to keep for the long period of time it would take to mail them to you fresh from San Diego… the tree, or more like plant I should say, is out of control and very invasive! There is so much passion fruit my mom and sis can’t eat it all as it falls to the ground ripe and ready to eat. We freeze most of it.

  2. Hi Jen, hi dad, hi Dave! Someone has some time on her hands to make quince paste and homemade crackers. How is the Foodie Fight game for two going? Jay and I play it any chance we get. What are you going to do with all of that quince paste? That sure made a lot. I’m making Dorie Greenspan’s classic brownies right now. I got the Milk Bar cookbook from the library today. It’s got some pretty good recipes in it including the chocolate chip cookie recipe and crack pie. The compost cookies look interesting as do the Funfetti cookies. I’ll let you know if I make anything from it. I like how you are going all PW with your step by step photos. strangest thing happened today, I got an email from Tobie. She said that you two are working on a project. What’s up with that? Do you have a secret you are keeping from me like “the villa”?

    1. Hi Nicole. I put Foodie Fight in there just for YOU. I haven’t even opened the package (it’s still sealed) and it will probably stay that way because when I showed it to Raj he seemed less than excited. Maybe I’ll bring it to “the villa” and play with my mom and dad, or even better yet, I’ll play with Tobie while we’re filming our pilot. Is Milk Bar cookbook worth buying? It keeps popping up as a book to buy.

  3. Jen, the quince paste looks intersting. Lots of quinces at the Persian market. I think I’ll make the tangerine marmalade before I make the paste. I made cranberry nut bread on Sat. and it is awesome. Make this especially for our guest coming today.

    1. Is this my mother posing as my dad, or has my dad become the cook of the house? I found tangerines at the store. Let me know how the marmalade comes out and I may make some as well.

      1. I was ready to call mom out for impostering as dad again. I like the Milk Bar cookbook a lot. It’s interesting but you might be freaked out by the mainstream white trashy ingredients if you know what I mean. i might want to buy the book. I like how the girl writes. Of course she’s done all of these great things by the time she’s 29:)

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