Popular throughout many countries, kidonopasto (aka, quince paste or quince cheese) is incredibly versatile and one of the most delicious confections you’ve ever tasted! We love it paired with cheese and served as an hors d’oeuvre!

The quince fruit has been prized since ancient times and up until around the early 19th century was still found in the garden of many homes. As long ago as 1922, the great New York pomologist U. P. Hedrick rued that “the quince, the ‘golden apple’ of the ancients, once dedicated to deities, and looked upon as the emblem of love and happiness, for centuries the favorite pome, is now neglected and the least esteemed of commonly cultivated tree-fruits.”

They dined on mince, and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon.

Edward Lear

Though highly revered for so long, it has sadly fallen out of favor to the point where few people have even heard of it let alone tasted one.  How that happened I can’t imagine because it is one of the most under-appreciated and spectacular fruits out there.

Popular throughout many countries, kidonopasto (aka, quince paste or quince cheese) is incredibly versatile and one of the most delicious confections you’ve ever tasted!

The quince fruit has been prized since ancient times and up until around the early 19th century was still found in the garden of many homes. As long ago as 1922, the great New York pomologist U. P. Hedrick rued that “the quince, the ‘golden apple’ of the ancients, once dedicated to deities, and looked upon as the emblem of love and happiness, for centuries the favorite pome, is now neglected and the least esteemed of commonly cultivated tree-fruits.”

Though highly revered for so long, it has sadly fallen out of favor to the point where few people have even heard of it let alone tasted one.  How that happened I can’t imagine because it is one of the most under-appreciated and spectacular fruits out there.

Though it is in the same family as apples and pears, the quince is practically inedible raw, no matter how ripe, and has to be cooked.  And though it is considered less versatile than apples and pears, and is challenging to find anymore, it has such an incredible and unique flavor it is worth every effort to find it.

Today we’re making what is probably the most famous application of the quince besides quince jelly:  Kidonopasto!

What Is Kidonopasto?

Kidonopasto, quince paste or “melimilon” in ancient greek. The melimilon or otherwise quince paste, is the sweet, which takes us back to our childhood, reminding us of our grandmother living our village country home with the garden and the quince trees. She used to make these small, wonderful jellies, sometimes plain, sometimes wrapped in sugar to treat her grandchildren on each of our visits.

What do apples have to do with quinces? Quite simply, in ancient times “apples” were generally called quinces, apples, peaches, apricots, citrus. There are recorded recipes that Greeks and Romans, the latter in fact, adopted and loved very much melimilon, made it, and enjoyed it regularly at their banquets and celebrations. As for the golden apples of Hesperides, it is not excluded that as the legend says (the myths hide truths, even if covered) they were quinces, yellow and bright, worthy to be offered as a gift from Gaia, to Zeus and Hera for their wedding.

Kidonopasto is a sweet, thick, sliceable firm paste made from quince, especially popular in Greece.  It is now a popular confection in many countries.  It’s also known as Dulce de membrillo (Spain, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay), marmelada (Portugal, Brazil), pâte de coing (France), Quittenkäse (Germany), birsalmasajt (Hungary), and quince cheese (New England) or quince paste (UK, Canada, Australia), to name a few.

The quince has been a highly revered fruit since ancient times and this recipe is thought to have Roman origins as early as the 4th or 5th century AD and used honey instead of sugar.

Quince paste is usually sold in squares and is served by cutting it into thin slices to accompany cheese (in Spain, Kidonopasto and manchego cheese are inseparable), served on crackers, spread on toast or sandwiches, served with breakfast, eaten plain as a sweet confection (and commonly rolled in sugar), served with meats, and is also used to stuff pastries and spread in cakes. In Greece, we enjoy it as an everyday snack, on cheese platters or as breakfast on toast.

We’ll never forget the first time we tried Kidonopasto.  It was also the first time we had ever tried quince.  Oh, the aroma and the flavor!  It’s among the most unique and wonderful smells and flavors we’ve encountered.  It’s hard to describe.  It’s not anything like apple or pear.  The best word we can think of to describe the flavor is sweetly floral.  It has a highly aromatic, floral flavor, almost like it’s made with essential oils of wild English roses.  After having tasted quince, we now understand why quince in ancient times was considered a fruit of the gods.  It is divine.

How to make Kidonopasto (quince paste)?

You will need:

2 kilos quince , washed (remove any of the fuzz)

1 kilo white granulated sugar

3 large apple geranium leaves

1 cup of skinned almonds, chopped very roughly

2 tablespoons cognac

some white granulated sugar

bay leaves

How to make

Wash the quinces until all fuzz is removed. Bake them at 175° C in a pan wit some water until they are tender. Let cook and cut in large pieces. Remove the seeds and puree the quinces with an immersion blender or blend in a Vitamix or similar until smooth. Weigh the puree and add the same amount of sugar as the weight of the pureed fruit. Place the mixture in a medium pot over medium heat.  Stirring occasionally, until it forms a very thick body that doesn’t stick to the sides of the pot while stirring. Remove from the heat, add the apple geranium leaves and the almonds. Pour the hot mixture into a baking tray 30x35cm lined with greased greaseproof paper and smooth the top with a spatula dipped in the cognac. Leave the paste in the baking tray for 2-3 days until it’s “dried”. Cut it in large rectangle pieces and dip them in granulated sugar. When they are “dried” and stabilized, store in an airtight container with bay leaves between the pieces. It doesn’t need to be stored in the fridge.

How to serve Quince Paste?

Cut the quince paste into thin slices and place over plain toast or toast that’s been spread with soft cheese or cream cheese. Some people prefer to serve kidonopasto with cheese, creating a salty contrast to the sweetness of the paste, served atop wedges of a rich cheese as an hors d’oeuvre. Quince paste is also used as a filling for pastry. We highly suggest you serve it with your cheese & charcuterie board.  Traditionally served as a sweet treat, it pairs beautifully with most aged, hard cheeses! Try it with goat cheese as well—or just put it out for breakfast in place of jam!

Did you make this recipe?

We’d love to know how it turned out! Let us know by leaving a comment below, or share a photo on Instagram: tag @thelifelaboratories and hashtag it #thelifelabbakes

Good Luck!