Once you have spent a day admiring your cleverness in conjuring red jelly from a plain old fruit – consider the leftovers.

Take the pile of chopped-up cooked quince, drained of all its cooking water (that is now jelly) and blend or liquidise.  Pass this through a sieve.  This is easily done with the back of a ladle and really takes no time at all.

Weigh the resulting puree.

quince puree for quince paste

Add three quarters of the weight in sugar, and heat in a saucepan.  At this stage, it will be an unappetising colour (but surprisingly tasty!).

Bring to the boil.  This will be a violent spitting, gurgling affair that covers your worktop with splashes of puree.  This appears to be unavoidable, however many times I make this.  So I just accept the mess and give everything a good clean afterwards.

quince puree for quince paste cooking

Stir every few minutes to prevent it sticking.  You don’t need it on a high heat, only enough to keep it spitting!  And be patient.  This may take a couple of hours.

Over time, the colour will darken to that of apples that have browned.  And then, at some point that will escape you, you will find yourself stirring a rose-coloured viscous paste, and you’ll know it’s ready.  The moment of transformation from fawn to pink evades me every time.  It still strikes me as miraculous!

quince puree for quince paste cooking almost done

You can see the colour deepening to a toffee brown.  Be careful that it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan – keep the heat lower rather than higher.  You can’t hurry this one.

Once it starts pulling away from the sides of the pan, and takes on a rosy hue, dollop it (it’ll be too thick to pour) into a tin lined with baking paper.

quince paste home made

It’ll take a day or so to cool.  Some recipes recommend that you then dry it.  I don’t really find this necessary.  It’ll keep forever!  It doesn’t go off.  However – it is delicious fodder for ants, mice and so on – so ensure you store it somewhere safe!

Over time, the red colour deepens:

quince paste home made

Friends will be queueing for gifts of this delicious treat.  Serve with hard cheeses (Manchego, Wensleydale, Cheddar).

One final note – the earlier in the Quince season you make this (that is NOW in the southern hemisphere) the more pectin the fruit has, and  the better the result will be…