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The recipe is probably of ancient origin; the Roman cookbook of Apicius, 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, 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, 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.
In French cuisine, quince paste or Pâte de coing is part of the Provence Christmas traditions and part of the Thirteen desserts, which are the traditional dessert foods used in celebrating Christmas in the French region of Provence.
Quince cheese, an old New England specialty 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, 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.
In Pakistan, quinces are stewed together with sugar until they turn bright red. The resulting stewed quince, called Muraba, is then preserved in jars.