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9 December 2018

For the second instalment of my DIY Christmas gift guide mini series, homemade fruit pastilles rich with vibrant citrus and my favourite winter fruit, quince.

Fuzzy, yellow and knobbly, quince are a strange looking fruit. They have a heady, floral scent and require slow and gentle cooking to truly come into their own. During the cooking, the fruit flesh slowly transforms from white to a deep, ruby red - a little Christmas miracle in the comfort of your kitchen!

The below recipe is very similar to how you could make membrillo, or quince 'cheese', which is traditionally served with - you guessed it - cheese. I make and set a batch every year, saving half for the Christmas cheeseboard, and cutting the rest into bite size pieces and tossing in sugar to eat as pastilles.

The first recipe from the DIY Christmas gift guide mini series, fancy festive chocolate buttons, is available HERE.

800g quince (approximately 2 fruit)
1 orange
1 lemon
Approximately 600g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting

Line a baking tray with cling film. You should ensure the cling film is two/three sheets thick all over the tin.

Wash the quince to remove any fuzz, then chop into small pieces. You can leave the skin on but remove the core. Place in a large pan and cover with enough water to cover the fruit. Use a vegetable peeler to par the zest or the orange and lemon into strips, adding to the pan. Add the juice of both to the pan. Cook on a low heat for 1.5 - 2 hours, stirring regularly, until the quince has broken down and the liquid has turned from white to pink.

Blend the mixture using a stick blender. It’s fine to blend the quince skins and citrus peel, but you can remove them first if you prefer. Weigh the purée - you will have around 900g. Note down the weight then return the purée to the pan. You need to add two parts of caster sugar for every three parts of sugar (so for 900g purée you would add 600g caster sugar).

Once the sugar is added, stir well and return to a medium heat. Cook for 30-40 minutes, until the mixture is very thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Once thickened, pour the quince paste into the lined tin. Leave to cool and set completely.

Slice the quince paste into shapes, or use a cookie cutter if you prefer. Toss in caster sugar and serve. The uncoated quince paste will keep in the fridge for around six months.

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