Sunday, November 7, 2010

Charles Whyte opens quince paste factory

Watch out Maggie Beer. The Charles Whyte kitchen is making some seriously good quince paste in seriously cute, professional packaging. When I found small, plastic containers in the perfect size at Chef's Hat in South Melbourne, there was no holding me back. I started my own little production line where I was the factory manager, team leader and general hand. It was so fun filling tub after tub and lining them up on our dining table. I love anything en masse. Whether it's rows of plants in a garden, shelves of matching crockery or plates of colourful cupcakes, everything looks better in multiples.

All good factory managers know that you can't do everything and experts must be called in for certain tasks. Enter my talented Mister who had to join my little production as graphic designer and chief label maker. Even if I have the creative vision, he is much better at working out how to lay things out on the computer and has the brains and patience to print on round stickers without having a meltdown. Yay! I was just so excited when I stuck all the labels on and lined up the containers. As you will see from the photo, I've put my blog address on the labels in a not-so-subtle attempt to recruit readers. It's not easy getting a blog readership so I'm luring people in the way I know best - through their stomachs!

Since I first made quince paste earlier this year, I've tried to document my own simplified recipe. The various recipes I consulted all stipulate that you tie the cores in a muslim cloth and boil with the fruit. Quinces are very high in natural pectin and therefore have an abundance of setting power. I've always found that the paste sets beautifully without getting the extra pectin from the core, so I discard the cores and save bothering with the muslin cloth. Perhaps it would be set a bit harder if you kept the cores in while cooking, but I quite like being able to spread it easily. Here's my simplified recipe.

Quince paste

2kg quinces (approximately 6)
Around the same weight of sugar

Wash the quinces well to remove fur, then quarter and core. Place fruit in a large pot and enough water to just cover the fruit. 

Bring to the boil then simmer until soft. Blend fruit in pot. It should be moist but not too runny.

Weigh fruit and add an equal amount of sugar (I needed 1.9kg). 

Return to the pot and cook over a low heat for several hours (around 3.5 hours). Stir occasionally.

Mixture should bubble slowly and become deep red in colour. 

The mixture will set on a saucer in the refrigerator when it is ready. If not, add a little lemon juice and cook for a while longer. Pour mixture onto a tray lined with baking paper or into small containers or pots. 

Allow to air dry for a day or two then store in the refrigerator.  Quince paste keeps for up to four months. Enjoy with cheese.

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