Apple Membrillo is a twist on traditional Spanish membrillo made with quince paste. After you combine apple meal and sugar, the mixture is transferred to a pan to firm up like jelly. It is a delicious accompaniment to a cheese plate. LIGAYA FIGUERAS / LFIGUERAS@AJC.COM
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Kitchen Curious: Apple membrillo makes for easy holiday entertaining

A slice of membrillo on manchego cheese is one of my favorite food pairings, especially around the holidays. With a glass of Rioja, it’s heaven on Spanish turf.

Membrillo is a thick jelly made of quince that you can find in specialty cheese shops. However, in his newly published “Apple: Recipes From the Orchard” (Hardie Grant, $29.99), cookbook author James Rich reminded me that I could make something similar from apples, which are grown in abundance in this region.

Rich’s recipe calls for baking apples. He’s a Brit, so he recommends Bramley. But varieties like Jonagold, GoldRush, Braeburn and Pink Lady would all work. Mainly, you want an apple that offers tartness and sweetness, but is not overly crisp or sugary.

“Apple: Recipes From the Orchard” by James Rich (Hardie Grant Books, $29.99). CONTRIBUTED BY JACQUI MELVILLE
Photo: Jacqui Melville

This is a lovely recipe for lazy cooks because you don’t have to core or peel the apples. In fact, you need those parts because they provide the pectin to help set the jelly. A few squeezes of lemon juice wouldn’t hurt, either.

If you want to assemble a Georgia-made version of heaven on earth, chef Nick Leahy of Aix proposes serving the apple membrillo with Thomasville Tomme, an aged, semisoft cow’s milk cheese from Sweet Grass Dairy. Daniel Pernice, beverage director for RO Hospitality (Table and Main, Osteria Mattone, Coalition Food and Beverage), suggests sipping it with petit manseng from up-and-coming North Georgia wine producer Noble Wine Cellar. (Look for it at Hop City’s Krog Street location and Murphy’s in Virginia-Highland.)

“It features ripe fruit flavors but plenty of acidity to help preserve the balance,” Pernice said of the wine pairing.

The holidays can get stressful. So preserve your balance. Apple membrillo, a wedge of cheese and a bottle of wine: What could be simpler? Cheers to easy entertaining.

Apple varieties like Jonagold, GoldRush, Braeburn and Pink Lady can be used to prepare apple membrillo, a jelly condiment typically made from quince. CONTRIBUTED BY PAULA PONTES
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Recipe: Apple Membrillo
  • 4 1/2 pounds cooking apples, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • Caster (superfine) sugar, equal to half the weight of the apple puree (see note)
  • Line 2 (9-inch) square baking pans with baking parchment.
  • Put the apples and water in a large, heavy-based pan so that the water just covers the fruit. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, until the apples are soft. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  • Rub the apples through a sturdy sieve, squashing the apple through the sieve to turn it into a thick puree. Measure the amount of puree you have, then measure out half as much sugar.
  • Return the apple puree to the pan along with the sugar. Heat until the apple puree and sugar start to simmer and bubble. Continuously stir for about 1 hour while the puree reduces to about two-thirds of its original volume and becomes thick. Transfer to the prepared containers and leave to cool overnight.
  • Next morning you should have a thick jelly, which can either be sealed and stored in the refrigerator until needed or cut up and enjoyed right away. It will keep for up to 2 months. Makes 4 to 5 pints.
  • Note: Turn granulated sugar into caster sugar by pulsing it in a blender a few times, until the grains are superfine but not powdery.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per tablespoon: 30 calories (percent of calories from fat, 1), trace protein, 7 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, trace sodium.

Excerpted with permission from “Apple: Recipes From the Orchard” by James Rich, published by Hardie Grant Books, September 2019.

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