Quince trees are less and less, yet they are among the most beautiful in autumn, together with pomegranate plants. If you are lucky enough to have some quince – in the apple or pear variety , which is actually the same fruit slightly different in shape – or you can draw on that of some neighbor, you do not even need to look for the raw material in the market , where it tends to be scarce.
Who has already entered the “door” for a while ‘, probably will remember the quince sold sold in closed loops in tin or wooden boxes , or in hard molds almost like melting candy . Today the cotognata is almost impossible to find, so to offer it with a cheese plate or as a vintage dessert, you just have to prepare it at home.
The basic ingredients are, apples, sugar, water and lemon . Depending on the type of quince you want to prepare, you can add mustard oil, candied citron or orange, cinnamon, dextrose and citric acid powder to preserve the most beautiful shapes.
THE COTOGNATA – TRADITIONAL BASIC RECIPE. To prepare what once was also called pasta di Genova, proceed as follows:
- First prepare a sugar syrup the night before with 500 g of water and 1,125 kg of sugar. Cover it and let it rest.
- Bake about 2 kg of whole quince apples, without peeling them, in enough water to cover them. They have to become tender enough to be undoed with their fingers. Drain it with a skimmer, pass the fruit to eliminate peels and cores and rebate the waste in the advanced water if you want to make quince jelly at a later time.
- It weighs the apple pulp and if they weigh more 1,125 kg, add the missing sugar to the syrup.
- Bring the syrup to a boil and when the bubbles are evident, pour the apple paste, and begin to cook stirring. After 15 minutes add the juice of a lemon and all its grated rind.
- After another 15 minutes the cotognata should be ready. Test by pouring a drop onto a saucer: it should not move or slip. Do not overcook in cooking because it changes color and flavor quickly, tending to caramelize.
COTOGNATA – QUICK RECIPE. Take the quince pulp passed, weigh it and put in the pot the same amount of sugar and lemon juice. Continue to cook until the pasta begins to come off the pot
HOW TO STORE THE COTOGNATA. When the quince is ready, you can pour it inslightly greased molds or in a rectangular pan lined with baking paper . To keep it firm but moist, you can cut it into dough and store it wrapped in paper in airtight boxes .The molds instead you can let them air-dry for 4 days , or in an oven at 60-80 ° C for 24 hours.
To avoid that the forms of cotognata stick, you can sprinkle them with dextrose (which does not melt like sugar) possibly mixed with a pinch of citric acid.
AROMATIZED COTOGNATA. To have a cinnamon scented quince , when preparing the syrup add a whole spice stick and then remove it before adding the apples. For acognita senapata , instead, add mustard oil at the end of cooking over an open flame, taking care not to inhale or touch the oil with your bare hands. At the end of cooking, you can also add the finely chopped cedar and orange candies , or if you want to change color shade, add the cochineal dye to get various shades from orange to red.
COTOGNATA WITH MICROWAVE. With the microwave you can dry the quince much faster, cooking the pasta at maximum power a few seconds , letting it cool and repeating the operation as many times as you want to obtain the desired consistency.It is a very suitable method if you spread the fairly thin quince on a baking paper ;cover with another paper, level with a rolling pin and let it dry. At the end you can cut the jam into squares and wrap it with sugar or dextrose as if they were fruit candies.
HOW TO RECOVER THE WATER OF THE COTOGNATA AND MAKE A JELLY. Take the cooking water and all the quince waste, add two more apples (quince but also normal apples) and cook for 1 hour on low heat. Wring out everything in a cloth to get only a very limpid juice, add the juice of a lemon, the same weight of sugar and keep aside until the next day. Bring the jelly to a boil and cook until letting a drop fall on a cold saucer, keep the shape. This jelly is perfect for polishing fruit pies and sweets in general, as well as being eaten.