Recipe for Quince Paste (Kythonopasto)
This recipe is made in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, and, naturally, Greece. Although every home cook has her own favorite version, the one that follows provides the best results. Don’t be turned off by the long cooking time. It won’t seem so long if you cook the quince while you do some other kitchen task.
The bay leaves that cover the quince at the end of the recipe add an intriguing flavor.
Special tool: Food mill
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour
Yield: Approximately 40 pieces
2-1⁄2 pounds quince
1⁄2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2-1⁄4 cups granulated sugar
3 dried bay leaves
Core the quinces but do not peel. Cut into chunks and place in a 3-quart saucepan. Add the lemon juice and just enough water to cover the quinces.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, 30 to 40 minutes, or until very soft.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked quinces to a food mill. Discard the cooking liquid or use to make quince jelly. Process the fruit pulp into the saucepan. Discard the peel.
Add the sugar and stir well. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Lower the heat to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens to an oatmeal-like consistency and begins to come away from the sides of the pot.
(This step can take approximately 20 to 25 minutes.) The mixture is done when a spoonful turned upside down does not fall off the spoon.
Line a 4-cup loaf pan with a sheet of wax paper. Pour the quince into the pan and spread evenly with a spatula. Let sit, uncovered, for 3 hours or overnight.
When solidified, turn the pan over and remove the quince. Store in a tightly sealed container with 3 dried bay leaves.
To serve the quince, slice in pieces approximately 1⁄2-inch thick. Cut into squares and roll in granulated sugar.
Use the leftover water from cooking the quince to make quince jelly. To do so, pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce by half. Measure to see how much liquid you have. Return the liquid to the pot with an equal amount of sugar.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to a simmer and cook until syrupy. Test to see whether it’s done by dribbling a small amount on a saucer. If the liquid sets quickly, like jelly, remove from the heat; if it doesn’t set quickly, cook longer. When done, pour into an appropriate-sized glass jar and let cool to room temperature.