Preserves

Quince + Bay Leaf Fruit Cheese


Prep Time : 15 + 30 Minutes | Cook Time : 45 + 60 Minutes | Total Time : 3 hours | Difficulty : Patience is a Virtue

Hello my lovelies! Quinces are very special to me. My parents grow them at my childhood home. And they send me a care package of several kilos every year. I mostly just simmer them with a little sugar and vanilla bean and scarf them down on everything from porridge to ice cream. But I wanted to make one of the most classic quince preserves with you. With a little herbal twist of course. I wouldn’t be me if I could help messing around with things. A little earthy bay leaf gives this preserve a whole new dimension. It cuts the sweetness quinces can have and links it more strongly to it’s very best friend CHEESE. I have pored over my preserving books and spoken to my mother – the queen of the quinces – and have settled on a British style preparation. It has a few less steps and is a little less intimidating to get started with. It also ends up sealed in preserving jars for safe keeping and easy gifting. I am using the 1/2 cup quilted jelly jars from Ball. They are a great size and the don’t narrow at the top so when you’re ready to eat you can run a little hot water over the jar and turn out the fruit cheese. All ready for slicing and gobbling. I know there is a time investment here but it’s not intensive work. It looks like a lot to do below but I’ve included tonnes of tips for making preserves like this to make everything easier. Use fragrant bay leaves that still smell great – no dry dusty been-in-your-pantry-for-two-years tragedies.

Trim any bad spots off the quinces and chop them roughly, skins, pips and all. The bigger the pieces are the longer it will take to cook them so keep them to 2 inches or so. Put the pieces along with the bay leaves in a large heavy bottomed saucepan or small preserving pan.

Use the pot with the smoothest surface you have – it’s key to keeping things from sticking. Add a a few cups of water – enough to almost cover – and put the pot on a medium heat.

Simmer until everything is collapsing. You don’t need to stir for this but keep an eye on it in case the pot gets a bit dry and add a bit more water if you need to. How long this takes depends on how big the pieces are – it should take about 30 to 45 minutes. You can encourage the pieces to break down by crushing them with your wooden spoon or a vegetable masher.

Set a fine sieve over a large bowl. Press the quince pulp through it.

All the seeds and fibrous stuff will get left behind. This will take a bit of time. If you have minions around get them to have a turn. Use a good quality sieve – I have destroyed more than one cheap sieve because the mesh has separated from the rim when I’ve been pressing something through it.

You will need to apply a bit of pressure to the pulp to get it to go through. While it seems more efficient to do all the pulp at once its easier on your sanity to do it in three or four batches because it is easier to handle. The amount of pulp you get will depend on your perseverance with the sieve. You can get up to 750/800 grams if you’re keen.

Wash your pot out. Weigh the pulp. Put your pot on the scale and pour the pulp back into it to weigh it. Less dishes. Add an equal weight of sugar to the pot along with the salt and the juice of a lemon.

Put the pot back on the stove. Stir over a low heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium and let the mixture simmer. You can leave it on medium for the first 20 minutes or so then you will need to turn it down quite low. It will take up to an hour in total to drive off enough moisture – we are looking to reduce the volume by half. You will need to stir more often the more it reduces and I stir all the time once it has reduced by about a third.

While the pot is bubbling prepare the jars as you would for a jam. Wash and rinse them thoroughly and put them in a 120C (250F) oven to sterilise. Put the lids in a heatproof jug ready to pour boiling water over later.

We are looking for a thick paste that leaves a track that holds for a moment then closes when a wooden spoon is run through it. The paste will get more red the longer it’s cooked. I tried to take photos of the track but my reaction time is waaay to slow…

PSA: If you are stirring towards the end and you notice that it has caught on the bottom of the pot – dark bits will scrape up while you stir – don’t panic. Stop stirring and take the pot off the heat straight away. Pour the mixture off into a heatproof bowl or jug without scraping your pot at all. Scrub your pot out so it’s clean. Transfer the mixture back into the pot and use a spoon to fish out any burnt bits that are floating around. Continue cooking on a very low heat stirring all the time until it’s ready. No drama.

When it’s ready turn off the heat and boil the jug. Get the jars out of the oven and put them on a folded towel. Pour boiling water over the lids. You can brush them with a little vegetable oil to help with un-moulding later. Use a natural bristle brush not a plastic one…

Fill the jars with the quince mixture leaving about 5mm of room at the top. Cover and seal with the lids like you would for a jam. If you have any concerns about the seal then process in a water bath for 10 minutes to be absolutely sure.

You will need to leave the quince cheese to set for at least 24 hours. It will improve in flavour over time so if you can let it age for a month or so it is worth the wait. It will get darker in colour over time. When you’re ready to eat sit the jar in a dish of hot water for about 30 seconds or so and then open and run a thin knife around the sides. If it doesn’t loosen and come out with a little encouragement pop the jar back in the hot water for a little longer.

Ready. Set. Cheese.

Like this recipe? Pin for later or Print for right now:

Quince + Bay Leaf Fruit Cheese


Prep Time : 15 + 30 mins | Cook Time : 45 + 60 mins | Total Time : 3 hours | Difficulty : Patience is a Virtue

Makes : 5 to 6 half cup pots

Sweet aromatic quince and earthy bay come together in a perfect accompaniment for cheeses.

Ingredients:

  • approx. 1 kilo quinces
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • water
  • sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • juice of a lemon
  • neutral vegetable oil

– If using metric cups, reduce volume measures by 1 tablespoon for every cup of dry or liquid ingredients – 

Equipment:

  • Large heavy bottomed saucepan or small preserving pan
  • Sieve
  • Kitchen scale
  • 6 to 7 half cup capacity jars that do not narrow at the neck (quilted Ball jars are ideal)

Directions:

Trim any bad spots off the quinces and chop them roughly, skins, pips and all. The bigger the pieces are the longer it will take to cook them so keep them to 2 inches or so. Put the pieces along with the bay leaves in a large heavy bottomed saucepan or small preserving pan.

Use the pot with the smoothest surface you have – it’s key to keeping things from sticking. Add a a few cups of water – enough to almost cover – and put the pot on a medium heat.

Simmer until everything is collapsing. You don’t need to stir for this but keep an eye on it in case the pot gets a bit dry and add a bit more water if you need to. How long this takes depends on how big the pieces are – it should take about 30 to 45 minutes. You can encourage the pieces to break down by crushing them with your wooden spoon or a vegetable masher.

Set a fine sieve over a large bowl. Press the quince pulp through it.

All the seeds and fibrous stuff will get left behind. This will take a bit of time. If you have minions around get them to have a turn. Use a good quality sieve – I have destroyed more than one cheap sieve because the mesh has separated from the rim when I’ve been pressing something through it.

You will need to apply a bit of pressure to the pulp to get it to go through. While it seems more efficient to do all the pulp at once its easier on your sanity to do it in three or four batches because it is easier to handle. The amount of pulp you get will depend on your perseverance with the sieve. You can get up to 750/800 grams if you’re keen.

Wash your pot out. Weigh the pulp. Put your pot on the scale and pour the pulp back into it to weigh it. Less dishes. Add an equal weight of sugar to the pot along with the salt and the juice of a lemon.

Put the pot back on the stove. Stir over a low heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat up to medium and let the mixture simmer. You can leave it on medium for the first 20 minutes or so then you will need to turn it down quite low. It will take up to an hour in total to drive off enough moisture – we are looking to reduce the volume by half. You will need to stir more often the more it reduces and I stir all the time once it has reduced by about a third.

While the pot is bubbling prepare the jars as you would for a jam. Wash and rinse them thoroughly and put them in a 120C (250F) oven to sterilise. Put the lids in a heatproof jug ready to pour boiling water over later.

We are looking for a thick paste that leaves a track that holds for a moment then closes when a wooden spoon is run through it. The paste will get more red the longer it’s cooked. I tried to take photos of the track but my reaction time is waaay to slow…

PSA: If you are stirring towards the end and you notice that it has caught on the bottom of the pot – dark bits will scrape up while you stir – don’t panic. Stop stirring and take the pot off the heat straight away. Pour the mixture off into a heatproof bowl or jug without scraping your pot at all. Scrub your pot out so it’s clean. Transfer the mixture back into the pot and use a spoon to fish out any burnt bits that are floating around. Continue cooking on a very low heat stirring all the time until it’s ready. No drama.

When it’s ready turn off the heat and boil the jug. Get the jars out of the oven and put them on a folded towel. Pour boiling water over the lids. You can brush them with a little vegetable oil to help with un-moulding later. Use a natural bristle brush not a plastic one…

Fill the jars with the quince mixture leaving about 5mm of room at the top. Cover and seal with the lids like you would for a jam. If you have any concerns about the seal then process in a water bath for 10 minutes to be absolutely sure.

You will need to leave the quince cheese to set for at least 24 hours. It will improve in flavour over time so if you can let it age for a month or so it is worth the wait. It will get darker in colour over time. When you’re ready to eat sit the jar in a dish of hot water for about 30 seconds or so and then open and run a thin knife around the sides. If it doesn’t loosen and come out with a little encouragement pop the jar back in the hot water for a little longer.

Ready. Set. Cheese.

Cook’s Notes:

  • You don’t need to stir this constantly if you have a good quality pot with a smooth base but you do need to be around so make sure you have a decent stretch of time to work on this.
  • This fruit cheese makes an excellent gift – when quinces are in season dice and freeze them in zip lock bags ready to cook in November/December. Remember to write the date and weight of the contents on your bag and you’re in good shape.
  • Scale up by weight if you need to make a lot if gifts – or eat a lot of cheese…
  • Be careful cutting quinces – they are very hard. Use a sharp knife and secure your cutting board with a tea towel underneath.

 – If potted in sterilised jars it can keep on the pantry shelf for several months, otherwise store in the fridge for several months – 

Adapted from The River Cottage Preserving Handbook by Pam Corbin.

© 2018 Wellington Bakehouse. All images & content are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without prior permission. If you want to republish this recipe, please re-write the recipe in your own words, or link back to this post for the recipe.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , ,

2 thoughts on “Quince + Bay Leaf Fruit Cheese

    1. It’s just the fact that its firm enough to slice rather than spread really – in NZ it’s often called quince paste and sometimes fruit pate 😀

Leave a Reply