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Friday, 16 September 2016

How to make quince-cheese (has nothing to do with milk!)


Hello everybody.

These days many folks are using the term "the winter is coming" (so popular due to a certain TV show, right?), but back in time - that was something our old folks used to say around these months. Because THIS is the time to give a final "push" in winter preparations: the woods for the furnace and stove, the pickling for those bleak days when no veggies are available and making of sweets for.. well, let's be honest: for every time a Sweet Fairy sings her gentile call - and the tiny child's fingers reach out for the home-made goodness. :)

This is the "original" look from our region
and we call it "kitnikez" - derived from German " Quittenbrot"
(yet another "miss-understood-then-accepted" name)  :)

It is basically a thick-set marmalade made from the quince fruit (and in fact historically marmalade was made from quinces, and the English word “marmalade” comes from the Portuguese word marmelada, meaning “quince preparation”).

The fruit it all starts with.

As a part of the family where this sweet has ALWAYS been a part of the "winter is coming" preparations, I don't dare to forget my duties - even while I'm not living with my folks anymore, the "cheese" still has got to be made. The rule is: the more I make, the less the other members of the family have to.

Now, of course, the shape depends entirely
from the molds available:
more shapes and sizes, better show this "cheese" can make

These quantities make enough for our family for a year (ehmm.. winter), and the list is short:
– 6-8 quinces
– 1 lemon
– Granulated sugar (see below for measurements, known as "same-same")  :)
– Water
note here, before we start:
I will play a documentary while I prepare this
I advise you turn on the TV, play music or
do something else that will keep you company
-all the good things take time!-

Now, let's start:
Wash off the hairs (feel free to use the dish-rubbing brush) and core the quinces and cut them into chunks. Quinces are an abominably tough fruit to work with, so make sure your knife is extremely sharp and be sure to protect your fingers from slips. Put the quince pieces in a large saucepan and BARELY cover with water, cover with the lid, then simmer very gently for as long as it takes until the fruit is soft when poked with a fork. It will have turned a lovely lipstick pink. 
Take your time, let this simmer for a good while, make the quince tender and soft (you might as well do some other jobs while this is done)
Drain the pieces and weigh them, and measure out an equal weight of sugar (see, this is the "same-same" technique used in most of our recipes). Put the quince pieces in the food processor and blitz until you have a paste, then combine the paste with the sugar and the juice and zest of the lemon (this is how the recipe is at some homes, we omit the lemon). Put everything in a saucepan with a thick bottom.
Now, it's movie-time. Or documentary, or a good radio-drama. :)
Simmer the mixture over a very, very low flame, stirring until the sugar has all dissolved in the quince paste. Continue to simmer gently without a lid, stirring every now and then to make sure the bottom does not catch, for about two hours, until the paste is a deep red-brown and your spoon will stand up in it.
Yes, I wrote "two hours". I know.
Pour into a lightly oiled flat dish with straight sides or plate and leave to dry in an airy space for a few days. After this, turn the mixture upside down and dry it again. Cut up into the size you want and store in a box/tin with grease-proof paper in between the layers.

A form of art, see?

This is my task for tomorrow (if nothing else disturbs my plans). If you want to ask me why do I struggle with these archaic and time-consuming meals - I must say one can not explain the sheer joy I feel when it's done and I know that I am the one preserving the skills and reviving the recipes of all those ladies who lived here before me.
That's what "vintage-lifestyle" is all about for me.

.....
Happy Friday!
Marija

1 comment:

  1. How wonderfully inviting (and pretty looking). Quince is a delicate and delicious flavour. I quite like it and wish it would catch on more here, the way it has in some other parts of the world. I especially like quince paste/jelly as part of a cheese spread. It pairs amazingly with so many lovely cheeses (Spanish, Italian, some Canadian and German varieties, etc) and looks especially nice when served during this season, when its muted pumpkin hue matches fall's palette to a tee.

    xoxo ♥ Jessica

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