Monday, October 28, 2013

Product Highlight: Quince Paste

When the leaves fall and the mornings greet us with autumn’s telltale sign of sapphire blue, here at Matiz we know it’s time to look for quince. Most people think only of fall’s ubiquitous apples and pears, but quince fruits at the orchards of Trafut Cano in Spain are what we think of first.  These pear-shaped fruits go into both varieties of quince paste (or membrillo in Spanish) that we carry – Matiz brand and Corazón del Sol. Trafut Cano is a family-run business that has partnered with us since our beginning over 15 years ago, and continues to produce an outstanding product that we’ve never tired of pairing with our favorite Manchego.

In the orchards of the Cano family in Andalucía is where you’ll find these chameleon-like fruits. Looking like an irregular-shaped pear but with a tough, astringent flesh, quince fruits change to an appealing flavor and texture after hours of cooking with sugar and lemon. Quince have a light flesh, but this turns to a deep caramel the longer it’s cooked, producing a mild, sweet flavor somewhere between an apple and a pear. Corazón del Sol quince paste is lighter and milder in flavor that our own Matiz brand, which is cooked longer to result in a deeper color and more caramel notes.

Spain has always had a love affair with quince, as a traditional sweet foil for their pungent sheep’s milk cheeses. However, quince have been enjoyed around the world for millennia. Quince are in the same family as apples and pears and are native to the slopes of Iran and Turkey. The ancient Greeks considered these fruits a symbol of fertility, and there are tales that the biblical “forbidden fruit” was written to be quince. They were popular in the US during the colonial period, but have since become more of a “forgotten” fruit than a forbidden one.

Here at Matiz, we think quince are ready to be the new breakout stars of fall. Quince paste is quite versatile – its subtle flavor can conform to a variety of sweet and savory flavors. Besides pairing with your favorite pungent Spanish cheese, quince paste can be added to desserts. Check out our recipes page for fun recipes using quince paste.

How do you like to use quince paste?

Photo credit: Rebecca Siegel (quince paste photo 1) and Maggie Jane (whole quince)