The mix-and-cook facility of the Thermomix makes apparently tricky orchard fruit pastes a cinch.
Quince paste should be firm, even-textured, slightly grainy and deep red in colour. Served with soft cheese and the best, crusty bread or crisp, it’s a matchless end to a meal. It also offers a way for cunning cooks to sneak a little year-round quince magic into anything from slow-roasted lamb to pan-cooked duck breasts. Simply reconstitute a little paste with water
(or good-quality vinegar, or freshly squeezed orange juice) over low heat until it’s at whatever consistency you require for basting, or to deglaze a pan to make a deliciously perfumed sauce.
Apple and pear pastes are rarely, if ever, found in shops so they are well worth making at home, not just for your own pantry but as gifts for friends who love cheese. The natural tartness of Granny Smith apples balances the paste’s sugar content; for pear paste, we find green-skinned varieties such as Williams or Packham work best.
- Wash the quinces, rub the fur off but don’t peel them. Cut into quarters, remove seeds and seed casing. Cut the quince flesh into chunks that fit through the hole in the Thermomix lid.
- Place the quince into the Thermomix bowl and chop 5 seconds/speed 5.
- Scrape down the bowl and add the water. Cook for 10 minutes/100 degrees/speed 1 with the MC in place. If not completely soft, cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Puree the mixture 10 seconds/speed 8, then scrape down the bowl and repeat—be careful, the mixture will be extremely hot and the machine may need steadying. The quince should be a smooth pale yellow-green puree. It’s important there are no lumps before adding the sugar.
- Add the lemon juice and sugar then mix 5 seconds/speed 3.
- Cook for 20 minutes/Varoma/speed 2 with the MC out and the TM basket on top to contain splattering. After 20 minutes, scrape down the bowl and stir the mixture around a little. Repeat the cooking process twice more so that the paste has 60 minutes total cooking time, remembering to fully re-set the Thermomix each time.
- After the third 20-minute bout the paste should be very thick, deep crimson with lava-like bubbles. It will be extremely hot. Place a small amount on a saucer in the fridge and leave a few minutes. It should very quickly set into a firm paste that can be cut cleanly with a knife. If not, the paste may need 5 minutes or so more cooking to get a really firm set.
- Pour the molten mixture into a shallow container lined with baking paper. Give it a few sharp raps on the bench to get rid of any air bubbles and allow it to cool and set firm overnight. Store well wrapped in a cool, dry place. The paste will keep indefinitely.
AND … I prefer to cook the paste in three 20-minute periods rather than the full 60 minutes at once so I can keep an eye on its progress, give it a stir, check how the colour is progressing, scrape down the bowl in between and keep the splattering under control.