Making Membrillo – Devon Style
It’s a fabulous autumn for fruit – apples, plums, damsons, blackberries and on a walk in Dartmoor last weekend, there were trees covered in rowan berries. Obviously we couldn’t leave them behind so brought a bagful home, along with a a big bag of cooking and eating apples that needed rescuing from friends we were visiting.
Now you might be thinking hedgerow jelly however I’m not a jelly maker – not enough patience; too tempting to squeeze that bag of fruit and cloud the finished preserve.
I do love making membrillo though – that gorgeous Spanish quince paste, fabulous with cheese and cut into little cubes, great in baking; tarts, cakes, biscuits. No need to peel anything, just chop it all up and put it in the pan. Cover with water, cook until tender, mash, sieve, cook with sugar, leave to set. If you wanting to give a pressie, wrap in some baking parchment, and tie up with string like the lovely Nigel Slater.
Anyway no glut of quince this year so a West Country Membrillo it is – apples with rowan berries. Here’s what we did –
1kg baking apples, roughly chopped – don’t worry about peeling anything and leave the cores in
200g rowan berries – or blackberries or sloes or blackcurrants
500g caster sugar – or more if you have a sweet tooth.
1. Put the chopped apples and rowan berries (or whatever berries you’re using) in a large wide pan and cover with water.
2. Bring to the boil and simmer until the apples are tender.
3. Drain the whole mixture through a sieve and press the apples to get most of the pulp through the sieve.
4. Put the sieved mixture back into the pan and bring to the boil again.
5. Reduce the volume by half before adding the sugar. Turn the heat down while the sugar dissolves and then turn the heat back up to bubble away.
5. You want to bubble this mixture until you can draw your wooden spoon along the base of the pan and see a channel before it covers it back over. It will become golden brown in colour. Be careful when it gets to this point though as it will be super hot and spitting.
6. Line a dish with baking parchment and pour the apple mixture into it. We use a large lasagne dish so the mixture is only about 3cm deep when it’s in there.
7. Let this set and then cut into pieces to store in a plastic box with a lid in the fridge. The membrillo should keep well but eat within 3 months or put it in the freezer in small batches wrapped up and take out as needed.
8. Serve with cheese. And it makes great presents too.