What: spiced quince leather
Main ingredients and where I got them: The quince came from my recent visit to the USDA National Clonal Germplasm Repository. The honey came from our bees.
How much: four twelve-inch squares of parchment
(almost exactly the same as my recipe for spiced pear leather)quince, rinsed and cut into medium-small chunks honey lemon juice and wide strips of lemon peel (Peel a lemon with a vegetable peeler, but try not to include the white pith.) whole spices (cinnamon, star anise, allspice, cardamom, cloves, vanilla bean, etc.)
Put the quince in a heavy bottom pot, cover with water, and set it over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and then turn the heat down and let it simmer until the quince softens, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the quince is fork-tender, drain off and reserve the cooking water, and run it through a food mill to separate out the seeds and skins. Transfer the quince sauce back to the pot. Add honey to taste plus the lemon juice and zest and whole spices. Over low heat, simmer the spiced sauce for another hour or two, adding back more cooking water as necessary to prevent scorching.
Spread the thickened quince sauce on pieces of parchment cut to cover dehydrator trays or pans for oven drying. Remove the whole spices at this point but leave in the strips of lemon peel. Dry until pliable but no longer tacky, about 24 hours in a dehydrator at 135°
Last year, I made membrillo (quince paste) mostly following this recipe. I really liked it, but the whole drying part was kind of a pain. This year, I decided to just cut to the chase and run quince leather through the food dehydrator. It’s not thick like membrillo (though I spread the sauce a little thicker than my other fruit leathers), but it’s kinda the same effect/taste. I don’t really have a lot of salty, sheep’s milk cheese (as per membrillo tradition) in my life to eat it with, so I’ve taken to gnawing on it as a little snack instead.
The above non-recipe guidelines are very forgiving. When you’re adding the honey, know that the mixture will sweeten up a bit when concentrated in the dryer, so plan accordingly. The spices listed above are just suggestions as well. In fact, you could probably add ground spices to the sauce with similar effect if you wanted to. You could also tie the whole spices up in a little cheesecloth bag, so you don’t lose them in the thickened sauce and then find them again by chomping on a whole clove bud later on (like I did). I learned when making my spiced pear leather to leave the lemon peel in the final product. Somehow the peel ends up almost candied and adds a great zing to the leather.
If you don’t have a food mill, you’re gonna have to core the quince in advance and probably run it through a food processor to puree the skins (or peel the fruits at the beginning).
I decided to cut my quince leather into little 1-1 1/2″ squares for cute, quick consumption. I’m growing fond of having fruit leather bites on hand.
Did you catch the quince discussion on NPR today? It wasn’t really anything I didn’t already know, but the link has recipes for quince paste and quince sauce.
This is part of a collection of posts documenting my food preservation activities this summer/fall (more info here). Please feel free to comment with a link to food preservation activities on your own blogs or links to recipes you’re following or you’d like to try from other blogs.