Quince cheese

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Indy Lifestyle Online

It's time the quince made a comeback. It looks like a hairy pear and takes a lot of cooking before it's edible, but has a lovely fragrance and taste when it is cooked. Turkish grocers - they use quince a lot in their cuisine - are good places to find the fruit. This isn't really a cheese at all, but a fruit preserve that goes particularly well with cheese. In Spain where it's widespread and eaten with manchego, this thick fruit paste is called membrillo.

1kg preserving sugar
750ml water
1.2kg quince, peeled, cored and grated or cut into small pieces
Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to the boil. Continue to boil for about 5 minutes to make a light syrup. Stir the quince into the syrup, bring back to the boil and simmer very gently, stirring every so often for anything from 45 minutes to 11/2hours until the mixture turns into a thick grainy paste. This is a slow process, and there's nothing for it but patience, but I find giving it an occasional whisk helps the process along. It is ready when the spoon, dragged across the bottom of the pan, separates the paste, showing the clean bottom of the pan.

Spread the paste into lightly greased shallow dishes or trays and place in the oven at its lowest possible temperature for 3-4 hours to harden further. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Once cool, wrap in greaseproof paper in useable slabs that you can give away as gifts or keep for your own use. Store these in the fridge in sealed containers. It will keep for up to a year.

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