Making Membrillo

The two pounds of lumpy quince in our share yield a generous amount of membrillo–that firm quince jam traditionally paired with cheeses like Manchego. Often, the membrillo in the cheese section is super hard, almost chewy, but if you make it at home you can keep it a little softer.



  • 2 pounds quince, peeled, cored, roughly cut
  • zest of 1 orange, 1 lemon
  • pinch salt
  • 600 grams sugar
  • juice 1 lemon

Bring a big pot of water up to boil with the zest and salt. Boil the quince for about 25 minutes. Drain well in colander then blend in a food processor until smooth. Eyeball contents of bowl for any quince seeds or other hard bits you may have missed. If you see a seed floating round the bowl, get it! Weigh the puree (the 2 pounds of quince from Saturday’s share yielded 600 grams cooked). The weight of the puree indicates the weight of the sugar you’ll have to add.

In a large saucepan, add the puree, sugar, and lemon juice. Boil over medium to low heat, stirring frequently and scraping down sides of the pot with a heat-proof spatula until the membrillo goes from a light yellow color to a deep orange color. Hot boiling sugar is dangerous, so, you know, be careful.

After about an hour of slow cooking, test membrillo by putting a spoonful of the stuff on a plate and letting it cool. The membrillo should be firm. If not, let it cook a little longer then test it again. If it’s firm, transfer the paste to a small bowl or square dish lined with parchment paper and smooth out the surface with a spatula. Gently tap dish on work counter to remove any pockets of air, and allow to cool at room temperature before refrigeration.

Enjoy a slice with cheese, on toast, with roasted meats, etc.


7 responses

  1. Thanks, Tejal! My mom makes this every year–but i’m not sure i understand what i’d need to do to make this a little softer than usual? Maybe it’s just the amount of sugar? (My mom’s recipes don’t usually include measurements, of course!)

    • Hi Jeanette! Basically, the more you reduce it, the firmer it gets and when you make it at home, you just have control over where to stop the cooking.
      The plate test–where you take a small amount and let it cool on a plate–is a good way to judge how soft/firm it is. And you can just stop the cooking when it’s a texture you like. I usually test it 3-4 times while it’s boiling, to try and catch it where I like it. And if you do the plate test and it’s too firm for your liking, you can always add a couple spoons of water to soften it, bring it back to the boil, and test again. Hmm, does that make sense?

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