Quince are naturally fuzzy, but it seems almost as though the fuzz isn’t attached. You could wipe each fruit with a cloth, but the fuzz washes off easily in water.
Making quince candy is an easy and delicious way to use those quinces you just got too tired of processing into jelly. Quince candy is a popular treat in Croatia and Serbia where people call it Kotonjata, and in Spain where it goes by the name Dulce de Membrillo.
The Steps to Quince Candy
Start by washing the quince to remove the fuzz. You could wipe them with a cloth, but giving them a quick bath in cold water is efficient.
Chop the quince into quarters and then cut the quarters into two or three pieces each. Remove any bad spots, of course. Most recipes say to peel and core the quince. This is difficult and dangerous and not worth the effort. Just chopping a quince is a challenge; quince is one tough fruit.
Put the pieces in a pot and cover them with water. Cover the pot and bring it to a simmer. Cook until you can easily slide a fork through the pieces and they are soft enough to mash. Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool.
When the quince is cool enough to handle safely, run it through the medium screen of a food strainer or a food mill. Clean the strainer, switch to the fine screen, and strain the quince pulp again to get rid of the skins, seeds, and other parts that didn’t turn to mush (with a food mill, this step might not be an option, so just skip ahead). There may be dark flecks in the pulp but these are harmless and won’t show in the finished product.
For every cup of quince pulp, stir in a half cup of sugar. Most recipes call for a whole cup of sugar, but quince is sweet enough it doesn’t need so much. Put the sweetened pulp into your slow cooker, cover it, and cook it on high until it starts to bubble around the edges. Remove the cover and continue to cook on high, stirring periodically (see the box titled Slow-Cooking Quince Candy).
What you want is a very thick paste. You should be able to drag your spoon across the bottom of the slow cooker and leave a trail revealing the bottom of the pot. When your quince reaches this point, it is done. Turn off the heat and let the paste cool to a safe handling temperature.
Choose a baking dish or other pan of a size that your quince paste will fill to a depth of half to three quarters of an inch. Line the pan with parchment paper and pour your warm quince paste into it. Spread the paste in an even layer and let it cool overnight.
After milling to remove seeds, stems, skin, and other hard parts; after hours of slow-cooking; and after setting to cool for hours; your quince candy should be one giant, flat, soft “gumdrop.”
The quince candy should set to the consistency of a soft gumdrop. If it’s too soft, re-melt it in the slow cooker and cook and cook.
If your candy is properly gummy, turn it out onto a piece of parchment paper and cut it into any shapes you like with a thin bladed knife. I cut it into half inch strips and then cut the strips into inch long rectangles. Toss the pieces in a bowl of granulated sugar. The sugar is for more than sweetness: it helps keep the pieces from sticking together and it helps prevent mold. If your candy is too moist and you find that the sugar is dissolving or there is moisture gathering at the bottom of your storage container, you didn’t cook the quince paste down enough. You can place the pieces in a food dehydrator on low heat to dry it further, but be careful not to melt it. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you should return all the pieces to your slow cooker and cook it some more.
When you make your own candy, you can cut it into whatever shapes please you. Making rectangles is easy and it assures some uniformity among the pieces. After you cut up the candy, toss the pieces in granulated sugar. This final coating helps prevent spoilage and makes the candy less sticky to the touch.
Uses and Variations for Quince Candy
The candy keeps well for up to six months in an airtight tin or jar. You can refrigerate or freeze it if you need a longer storage time.
If you want, add spices to the sugar with which you coat the candy. Cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom are all nice, as is vanilla. I’m partial to the cardamom.
These candies would be great in “thumb print” butter cookies where you put a dab of jam in the center. They’d also be good dipped in chocolate.
I like them just fine plain.
Kris Gasteiger is the owner and operator of White Oaks Farm in Levels, West Virginia. Click here to reach him via email: Kris at White Oaks Farm.