Membrillo… Finally

Last week, I told you about my quince fiasco. I am not one to go back to the store and ask for a refund, but I couldn’t let this one pass, mostly because I really wanted the produce manager to know what had happened. I went back the following day and noticed they still had some of the same batch of quince on their shelf. I spoke to the manager and told him what had happened. I asked him if he could cut one open for me and so he did. It was instantly obvious these were really old and had to be removed from the shelves. Embarrassed, he quickly apologized and promised he would have some fresh ones waiting for me at the store the following day, free of charge, of course. And so he did and they were triple the price they had been just a day prior, but this time, perfect.

Membrillo or quince paste is a very traditional component served to accompany cheeses in Spain. It is a thick confiture made simply with quince and sugar that resembles more pate de fruit than a jam or a jelly. This time, I made little baked crackers made with some Idiazabal cheese I brought back from my trip.

One of my earliest memories as a child is of me trying to ingest a crusty baguette with cheese and membrillo inside while I had a sore throat. I loved this bocadillo so much that I was willing to put myself through such misery!


4 large quinces
Juice of 1 lemon
Sugar (same amount as pureed quince)

Peel, core and quarter the quince. Cut the quarters in half. Place the cut quince in a bowl with lemon juice to stop it from oxidizing.

Place the quince in a large pot and cover them with cold water. bring this water to a boil and cook the quince until fork tender for about 20 minutes.

Drain the water out and puree the soft quince. Scale the puree. You will need the same amount of sugar as puree. In my case it was about 1100 grams.

Place the puree and sugar in a large pot and start cooking it in medium heat. When the sugar melts and it starts to get hot, it will bubble up and might burn so be very, very careful when stirring. wear gloves if necessary. Turn the heat down a bit but make sure there are still small bubbles forming. Cook this mixture for about an hour or an hour and a half. We want the sugar to caramelize. The color will start to turn into a deep orange.

Transfer the membrillo, which will be a thick paste, into a quarter sheetpan lined with parchment and let it cool. Store at room temperature covered with plastic wrap.

Idiazabal Cheese Crackers

Cut thin slices of the cheese and cut these into squares. Place the cheese on a sheetpan lined with a silicon mat and bake at 350F for about 12 minutes until lightly golden.

On another note, Cakespy just featured some of my photos and a fun interview. If you are interested in knowing a bit more about me, go check it out.

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80 Responses to “Membrillo… Finally”

  1. nadia says:

    beautiful! I love these images they are soft. I also like the simplicity of it.

    I do hate when i buy bad fruit.

  2. Cakebrain says:

    To me, the quince is a romantic fruit. Perhaps because it seems so in literature. Your pictures are yet again captivating!

  3. The quince jelly looks like the guava sweet you can get from Mexico. I wonder if it is the same kind of thing, used in the same way?? All I knew about it was it was yummy, and we always nibbled it all away. :p

  4. Vera says:

    I love quince paste, Aran! The photos are amazing!

  5. linda says:

    I’m not sure people make something similar in the Netherlands but I do remember the quince paste/cake my Croatian aunt makes with some chopped walnuts inside…delicious!
    Will try this recipe when I find some good quinces.

  6. Happy cook says:

    Looks so yumm and beautiful as always

  7. wow great photos :) as usual anyway. this looks so nice !!!

  8. morgana says:

    ¡¡¡ Qué bueno !!! Y qué recuerdos de infancia… El queso fresco con membrillo es un postre tan tradicional…

    Me encantan las fotos, siempre eres capaz de darle tu toque a todo y regalarnos unas imágenes maravillosas, aunque sea de algo que todos conocemos y hemos comido nos lo pintas tan apetecible que hasta parece nuevo y mil veces más atractivo.

    Voy corriendo a ver la entrevista de cakespy…

  9. Christy says:

    I made membrillo a few months ago at the end of winter. Took some photos, but I’m still too busy to post them up!! Sigh….But how I wish I could taste some of those Idiazabal cheese you brought back from Spain! I have to try to find them here. Wish me luck. Beautiful photos, as always! Glad you finally sorted out the quince problem.

  10. ChichaJo says:

    I have fond memories of membrillo in Spain :) And Idiazabal cheese!!! Oh my goodness, one of my favorite cheeses…when I find some here I always snap it up! How you’ve turned it into a cracker here is so clever and your own homemade membrillo…amazing!

  11. Peabody says:

    Okay, seriously, this has to stop. First we both made pumkin ice cream baked alaska and now you have up quince paste which I made for my other blog. Too funny. I like mine with Mangchego.

  12. Sil BsAs says:

    Confieso que yo soy fan del dulce de batata que en Argentina compite cabeza a cabeza con el de membrillo … pero tus fotos s on tan lindas que dan ganas de probarlo ya!!

  13. Esti says:

    nunca me ha gustado el membrillo (ya sabes, no soy del tipo dulce…), pero sólo mencionar queso Idiazabal se me hace la boca agua!! y crackers!! eres un portento!!

  14. leaca says:

    beautiful photography. i have never seen those crackers before.

  15. I’m wondering what quince are Aran. Going to figure it out. The crackers look lovely & the pairing is beautiful.BTW, glad you got fresh fruit; I do hate it when fruit/veg aren’t fresh!

  16. elizabeth says:

    I agree about this being very similar to the guava paste (pasta de guayaba) in latin american cuisine. A good friend of mine from Cuba introduced me to this, also served with cheese, and it is delectable!

  17. FeeMail says:

    wow i did’t know rhis kind aof sweets yet! but i’d love to learn more ;-)! greets, fee

  18. Lori says:

    I so wish I could find some quince! I have been looking and looking. Excuse me while I drool over my screen. Looks so good!

  19. Alejandra says:

    I love membrillo! I just made (and posted about) a batch this past weekend. So lovely!

  20. This brings back memories of my Spain holiday a few months ago. Looks so lovely.

  21. Bravo! I always intend to do that too, but never get around to it! I bought a case of pears that made me weep and I just threw them out! This looks fantastic and I love the flavors!

  22. Tartelette says:

    Yum! At last!! Quince have a very special place in my heart too with my mom’s quince jelly that I can’t wait to make this year. Pate de coing or Membrillo is one of my favorites and I am always mesmerized by the jewel tone of it. Smashing dear!!

  23. Consumer activism at its best – well done! It’s important to speak up when you know that food is being sold after its prime. It saves other people who know less about that food from being disappointed.

  24. Membrillo es de las cosas preferidas de mi madre. Estes cubitos estan perfectos y la idea de servirlos con los crackers de queso es genial! vi la entrevista en Cakespy, muy chula.

  25. Hola Aran,

    vamos a hacer un cheese tasting para los adultos en la escuela de inglés en la q trabajo, y hoy nos preguntabámos si poner membrillo y como se decía en inglés
    Y llego y tu blog me lo pone en bandeja

  26. Allie says:

    Oh, thanks. I tried to make quince paste the other day, and I wound up with more of a stiffer jelly than a paste. I just didn’t cook it long enough, I see.

    When you make it, are you stirring it constantly, or just periodically so it doesn’t burn?

  27. Anonymous says:

    I just picked a shopping bag full of quince from a bush in my uncle’s yard! The quince are quite small (about the size of a peach), and most likley ‘wild.’ He lives in an small, historic New England town. Quince were far more common in colonial New England cooking than apples! I planned to make a pie and maybe some ‘quince’ applesauce, but now I will try the membrillo!!!

  28. Aran says:

    Thanks everyone!

    Dana- That was very unlike me to go back and talk to someone but I did and it felt good! Thank you!

    Allie- Yes, I stir periodically so it doesn’t burn, but it does have to bubble a bit and even start to caramelize on that bottom for that orange color to develop.

  29. Aran says:

    Thanks everyone!

    Dana- That was very unlike me to go back and talk to someone but I did and it felt good! Thank you!

    Allie- Yes, I stir periodically so it doesn’t burn, but it does have to bubble a bit and even start to caramelize on that bottom for that orange color to develop.

  30. Emily Rose says:

    I had never heard of membrillo until about two days ago when I read about it on another blog! What are the chances that I’d stumble upon two recipes for it in one week?! Looks delicious- now I’ll have to try it!

  31. That looks delicious! Sadly my first quince experience was the same…they looked great…on the outside. :-/

  32. Jen Yu says:

    Quince cooks into the most glorious color. I first had membrillo in Argentina and I loooove it. Your presentation and crackers here are delightful and *always* beautiful. It’s a good thing you don’t live next door or I’d be knocking on your door after each post :) Thanks for the recipe!

  33. Anonymous says:

    Oh hey, my grandmother and my aunts usually make Cotognata, which -if I’m not mistaken- is the same thing as Quince Paste. I could ask my aunt her recipe for you? But I’m afraid she’ll tell me something along the lines of, “Get some quinces, peel them, put them in a pan, throw some zugar and cook till it’s nice, smooth and thick”. Eh, my relatives, they don’t need recipes to cook or weight the ingredients. It’s all in their heads.

    BTW, nice interview! Congrats. *Great* pics, as usual

  34. Serena says:

    *points at above comment* And that was me.

  35. Sweet Bird says:

    Oh I love idiazabal! My MiL just recently introduced me and I’m hooked. Now I just need to find some quince…

  36. I say good for you about getting fresh quince.

    I bought four a few weeks ago and my husband ate them all before I could make anything. I’m going to get more! I think I will make membrillo and surprise him with it for our anniversary this weekend.

    (I loved your interview at Cake Spy.)

  37. Dear Aran,

    Hola! I am truly inspired with your great works in the kitchen and the photos that you shoot! Well done! I’m an avid fan of your blog!!! :o)

    I was just wondering whether you can share with me what equipment you use to shoot such wonderful pictures ie. lighting, camera. The shadows are very well controlled and that makes the picture toned down. An effect that I’m still struggling to achieve.

    Kindly share. Thanks and appreciate it!

  38. limonana says:

    ah! I adore quince!! This sounds & looks simply incredible…

  39. Two of my favorite things – membrillo and idiazabal! Beautiful and undoubtedly delicious. This would be great for a party.

  40. giz says:

    After a long search, I finally found a store that sells quince. When I saw the price I thought, well maybe they’re just not in season.

  41. Mobula says:

    Justo que me acaban de regalar un queso Idiazábal traído expresamente de tu tierra y me estaba planteando incluir los membrillos en la lista de la compra para hacer una tanda que me pueda durar hasta la Navidad y veo los tuyos con ess crackersd de queso… Espectaculares!!!!

    Y la entrevista, genial!!!

    Gesostes desde las islas,


  42. Angela says:

    The universe is messing with me. If you can buy quince in Florida and Clotilde can get it in Paris, then why oh why can I not source it in England?

    I’m just going to have to plant a tree, aren’t I?

    Enough of my jealousy, though. The membrillo looks divine. I adore it as a sweetner/flavouring for ice-cream with some almond praline, and of course… with cheese!

  43. Aran says:

    Bejewelled- I need to write a post about it soon although believe me, my methods are very rudimentary. I rely on natural light and I shoot by my living room window. I wait for light to be perfect to take the photos. My camera is a Canon Rebel with a Sigma Macro lens. Thank you and more details should follow!

  44. Bea says:

    A really nice story for a great result!

  45. Camille says:

    Lovely photos and the post was very interesting. I love the sound of this combination, the cheese, the bread and the membrillo.

    I am so glad you went back to the market. Nothing is ever fixed by complacency. I’ve done the same thing time and time again. If I buy something it should be in good condition. Food is too expensive these days to accept bad produce and we deserve to get what we pay for: fresh fruit and veggies.

  46. jennifer says:

    thanks for stopping by aran! by the way, your blog is always so dreamy to me (i’m a mess of a baker)!

  47. these photos are so beautiful aran!
    the colors so perfect for a fall day.
    i LOVE membrillo!
    (We made a salad with young arugula, quince paste {I’m sure not as good as yours!}, toasted pecans and a good manchego with a tart vinaigrette and it was delicious…)
    it’s too bad your grocer raised the price though! can you grow a quince tree in your climate? hmmmmmm…

  48. pixen says:

    I can’t wait for the quinces to arrive in my local market! Thanks for the recipe Aran and the gorgeous, gorgeous photos… Glad you shared it :-D

  49. Chef KPH says:

    Quince has the one of the best scents. A restaurant I once worked in would make a tarte tatin with it. Love Quince

  50. cindy* says:

    yay aran! i am glad you got your quince. i hate to complain when i shop, but sometimes you just have to…and for you, it was rewarding!


  51. The quince you got the first time were way past. The ones I got was way under ripe and never properly ripen (and that WAS disappointing because I bought it directly at the orchard; but they had picked them really too early…). Yes indeed, it can be difficult to find produce at its peak!

    I still made quince jam – very similar to paste but cooked less. I eat with toast for breakfast… and also with blue cheese.

    Lovely photos as usual Aran. Thank you.


  52. I love Mebrillo! I could eat the stuff straight but it’s so nice with salty cheeses. I actually saw quinces at the farmers market last week and contemplated getting some. I’ll definitely be going back and getting some this weekend!

  53. Jesse says:

    I had no idea making membrillo was so easy! Thank you for this recipe – I’ll be making it very soon. How long does it keep and what’s the best way to store it?

  54. I love quince paste. But I can never find them. Not even at the farmers market, at least not in NYC. Sounds delicious wish I was there to eat some.

  55. Aran says:

    Thanks everyone! Hope you are able to find some quince at your markets soon.

    Jesse- I keep it in the refrigerator but I think it would be fine at room temperature because it has so much sugar. And it keeps for weeks!

  56. Sophie says:

    My grandmother used to give this to me all the time when I was little. I thought it was such a delicious and complex treat, it’s so nice to have a recipe for it now :)!

  57. breadpitt says:

    your pic and dessert always make my eye so comfort to view……every thing were so pretty………

  58. im so glad you went back to the store and did the whole cut open the fruit jazz. life is too short to be embarrassed by things. eh–how did you smuggle back in cheese? in a baby diaper? i’ve heard of people doing that….he he he. bravo!

  59. Aran says:

    Thank you!

    Mallory- Cheese is allowed girl! You can bring cheese into the country!

  60. Ai Lu says:

    This post brought back memories of eating membrillo paste with fresh cheese in Chile, where I went to high school. The girls in my school would also bring fresh quinces to eat during recess; they would cut a section, salt it (like melon) and then eat it raw. I never developed a liking for raw quince but the dulce combined with fresh cheese is out of this world.

  61. Millie says:

    Dear Aran,
    Nice job, as always. In Hungary (where i live) we have a lot of quince, so we made a lot of membrillo- “birsalmasajt”- which means “quince cheese” in hungarian. We usually put toasted walnut in it and let it dry a bit. Then we slice and eat it.
    In Transsylvania people make various dishes with quince, like soups and stews. They usually put a lot of tarragon in those dishes.

  62. Y says:

    Lovely to read more about you, Aran. And that membrillo looks fabulous!

  63. Dédalus says:

    Te superas, chicadeaquí!
    Es increíble tu trabajo. Además se nota la delicadeza con la que están realizadas todas tus presentaciones. Uno intuye tras ellas interés, dedicación, intensidad… y mucha ternura. De lo contrario, de resultado no sería el que se ve.
    No sé de repostería, pero he aprendido a valorar mucho cuanto me rodea, por pequeño que sea: un saludo, una sonrisa, un comentario, un qué tal… un pastelillo.

    Besos, Aran.

  64. Claudia says:

    You know, I have read this post thousands of times since I love to look at the picture of your ‘membrillo’. Today I wanted to write it down since next year I will try to make ‘membrillo’ myself. In Portuguese we say ‘marmelada’ and quince are called ‘marmelos’. I grew up eating ‘membrillo’ even if quince was not available in the entire country where I grew up, they were not locally produced, but they were everywhere. Where I grew up, down there in the South, we enjoy growing up eating stuff from far away, we enjoy the flavors, the energy and the culture that come with it such fruit.

    I have never made it before but I will give it a try and ‘membrillo’ is one topic of my next year list of stuff to try to make. I will be definitely fun to make ‘marmelada’ myself.

    I hope I can manage something beautiful too.



  65. Hi I have just come across your is truly amazing, the photos make you feel like the food is just right next to you.

    I have just made a new friend who is from Chile, and last week , we were in the covered market in Oxford, England, and she was giving me a talk on Membrillo..I am going back to the deli to buy some, just to try.

  66. Elena says:

    your blog is very beautiful and inspiring, so thank you for sharing all your ideas. today I tried to make dulce de membrillo as in Romania there are many quinces and I wanted to try something new. I never had this sort of marmalade before so I cannot really appreciate the consistency of it. I cooked the puree till it became like a fluid polenta and it was not sticking to the pot’s wall anymore … is that too much? now as it cools down it becomes quite stiff … thanks so much for the recipe :)

  67. Aran says:

    Elena- yes, it’s supposed to be stiff when it cools. you should be able to slice it with a knife, like pate de fruit. is that how it turned out?

  68. Elena says:

    Hi Aran,
    thank you for replying. It came out stiff, but it is very stiff and quite chewy … so I assume that I should have stopped cooking 10-15minutes earlier. Well, I will try to make it again.
    Have a lovely day.

  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

  70. We had a bumper load of quinces from our wall trained tree so your recipe was perfect…felt lazy so I did not bother to peel and core them–just chopped them roughly and threw them in pan with lemon juice and a little water. Sieved it through a chinoise and burbled mixture as instructed. Here’s the cool thing–fed the sieved pulp to my chickens who thought they were in heaven. Membrillo has now set and is perfecto–got the manchego from Waitrose and it went very well! Partner just had some on a crumpet so it’s versatile. Thanks for the recipe and your beautiful photos. AD Surrey ENGLAND

  71. ggshoe says:

    I would like to know what other names are known for this fruit because in my home land what we call “membrillo” is the star fruit.

  72. Anonymous says:

    Ummmm … Membrillos, recuerdo como mi abuela los colocaba entre las sabanas, desde entonces el olor de los membrillos me recuerdan a ella :)

  73. Anonymous says:

    In Argentina, Membrillo & cheese are called “postre de vigilante” (policeman dessert), because it can be eated during their patrolling rounds. A variation of this dessert is Cheese & sweet potato jam (queso y batata) and its made the same way: Boiled and mashed sweet potatoes, cooked with sugar and vanilla. Try any of them with fresh cheese or cream cheese.

  74. Unknown says:

    I just made it- delightful! Before it was completely cool I cut it into small squares and tossed them in powdered sugar. It was akin to turkish delight.

  75. Lana says:

    Please- Will you tell me where you purchased your Quinces? They are absolutely impossible to get hold of. I stumbled across your site looking for macaron recipes. And here you have recipes for Quince which I absolutely love! I couldn’t even get them in the UK!
    So, please will you tell me where I may purchase them? Thank you so much and I love your Site!

    • Aran says:

      That depends where you live. Here in Seattle you can find them at the farmer’s market in October or so. I feel like quince is something that it’s best to get when you know someone that has a tree…. They usually grow in areas where apple and pear trees thrive. Good luck!

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