QUINCES ARE ONE OF the most exquisite fruits I know. Hanging on the tree in shades of yellow and green, the fruit look like Christmas decorations, and they emit a wonderful fragrance. I love the way they change from a soft, pale yellow to the deepest magenta as they cook. Ripe quinces remain hard, but bruise easily. Store them in a wire basket on the bench.
- Fill a saucepan with cold water and add the lemon juice(from 1 lemon). Wash the fluff off the quince skins, then peel, core and slice them.
- Drop the pieces into the water to prevent browning. Tie the peelings and cores in a muslin or cheesecloth bag and add to the pan.
- Cook over a medium heat until the quinces are tender - about 30 minutes. Transfer all the contents of the saucepan, except the muslin bag, to a food processor and purée until smooth.
- Return the purée to the saucepan, add the sugar and cook over a low heat for 3 to 4 hours. The colour will become a deep ruby.
- Allow the mixture to cool in the saucepan, then pour into a 28cm sponge-roll tin lined with greaseproof paper.
- I put the tin in an oven switched to fanbake, but with no heat, for about 12 hours to dry out the paste.
- Alternatively, leave the tin to stand on the bench for a few days. Store the paste in an airtight tin.