Quince cheese

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Quince cheese
Dulce de membrillo.jpg
Type Jelly
Main ingredients Quince, sugar
Cookbook:Quince cheese  Quince cheese
The quince is a hard, golden yellow fruit. The fruit was known to the Akkadians, who called it supurgillu.[1]

Quince cheese, also known as dulce de membrillo, is a sweet, thick, jelly made of the pulp of the quince fruit. Quince cheese is a common confection in several countries, where it goes by various names, such as carne de membrillo or ate de membrillo in Spanish, marmelada in Portuguese, codonyat in Catalan, cotognata in Italian, birsalma sajt or birsalma zselé in Hungarian and membrilyo in Tagalog.

Traditionally and predominantly from Portugal, Italy (exported when the South of Italy was part of the Kingdom of Aragón) and Spain, dulce de membrillo is a firm, sticky, sweet reddish hard paste made of the quince (Cydonia oblonga) fruit.[2] Dulce de membrillo is also very popular in America, in Brazil (as marmelada), Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Mexico and in Israel, as a typical Sephardi dish.


The recipe is probably of ancient origin;[3] the Roman cookbook of Apicius,[3] a collection of Roman cookery recipes compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD, gives recipes for stewing quince with honey.

Historically, marmalade was made from quinces,[4] and the English word "marmalade" comes from the Portuguese word marmelada, meaning "quince preparation" (and used to describe quince cheese or quince jam; "marmelo" = "quince"), but nowadays (in English) refers mainly to jams made from citrus fruits, especially oranges.


Quince cheese is prepared with quince fruits. The fruit is cooked with sugar,[3] and turns red after a long cooking time and becomes a relatively firm quince tart, dense enough to hold its shape. The taste is sweet but slightly astringent.

Quince cheese is made of quince fruit, sugar and water, cooked over a slow fire. It is sweet and mildly tart, and similar in consistency, flavor and use to guava cheese or guava paste.[5] It is sold in squares or blocks, then cut into thin slices and spread over toasted bread or sandwiches, plain or with cheese, often served for breakfast or as a snack, with manchego cheese or mató cheese. It is very often used to stuff pastries.

Regional variations[edit]

Traditional quince cheese ("cotognata") on display at the Ortygia market in Syracuse, Italy.

In Spain, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and Uruguay, the membrillo, as the quince is called in Spanish, is cooked into a reddish jello-like block[10] or firm reddish paste known as dulce de membrillo.

In the Philippines the dessert is known as membrilyo even if it is made of guava, since quince which is unavailable in the former Spanish colony. It is a traditional part of the nochebuena array served on Christmas Eve.

In French "quince paste" or Pâte de coing[6] is part of the Provence Christmas traditions and part of the Thirteen desserts,[7] which are the traditional dessert foods used in celebrating Christmas in the French region of Provence.

In Serbia, especially Vojvodina, all of Hungary, and continental Croatia, i.e.Slavonija quince cheese is an often prepared sweet and is named kitn(i)kes, derived from German "Quittenkäse".

Quince cheese, an old New England specialty[3] of the 18th century, required all-day boiling to achieve a solidified state, similar to the French cotignac.

In Hungary, quince cheese is called birsalma sajt,[8] and is prepared with small amounts of lemon zest, cinnamon or cloves and often with peeled walnut inside. Péter Melius Juhász, the Hungarian botanist, mentioned quince cheese as early as 1578 as a fruit preparation with medical benefits.[9]

In Pakistan, quinces are stewed together with sugar until they turn bright red. The resulting stewed quince, called Muraba, is then preserved in jars.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ Lisa & Tony Sierra. "Dulce de Membrillo (Quince Paste) Information". About. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Vegetarians in Paradise/Quince History/Quince Nutrition/Quince Folklore/Quince Recipe". Vegparadise.com. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  4. ^ "Orange Marmalade Taste Test - Cook's Illustrated". Cook's Illustrated. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Membrillo (quince cheese): How to...: Good Food Channel". Uktv.co.uk. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  6. ^ "French Recipes - Traditional French Food and Desserts". About. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  7. ^ "Christmas Traditions in Provence". Provenceweb.fr. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  8. ^ "Birsalmasajt". Chew.hu. Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  9. ^ "Birsalma sajt". Quali-t-uw.hu. Retrieved 9 December 2014.