Services Culinary Moulds
Home About Us Courses Historic Food Galleries
Historic Food Galleries
Shop Events Links Bookings Recipes Leeds History of Food Symposium
Quince Recipes
There are far more recipes for quinces in seventeenth century English cookery books than for any other orchard fruit.

Sixteenth Century Confectioner's Mould

This replica of a sixteenth century mould was carved by Ivan. Though wooden 'prints' were used for moulding ornamental marchpanes and gingerbreads, they were also utilised for printing decorative patterns on quiddany, cotoniack and Genoa paste, the principal quince confections of the early modern period. The illustration opposite shows a quiddany printed from this mould.

Quince marmalade

The name quiddany normally referred to a translucent pectin-rich jelly, while other quince confections like Genoa paste were opaque thick marmalades. The Genoa paste above is flavoured with musk and 'struck' with perfumed ragged comfits. It is based on one depicted on Dives's banquet table in Frans Franken's 1603 painting Lazarus and Dives. Cotoniacks, quince marmalades and quiddanies were stored in little round wooden boxes. Pass your cursor over Dives's tazza of Genoa paste below to see some of these boxes.


A printed red quince marmalade garnished with knots of white and red quince paste.

Printed cotoniac or quince paste

John Murrel's 'Paste of Genoa', a delicious paste made from a mixture of quinces and peaches. It is similar to the modern Spanish pate de membrillo.

Preserved Quinces

Many early modern period cookery and confectionery books give recipes for preserved quinces, either red or white. That in the sweetmeat glass above was made from the recipe opposite fromArchimagirus Anglo-Gallicus. This interesting work was alleged to have been based on a manuscript written by Sir Theodore Turquet de Mayerne (1573-1655). Mayerne was a Swiss physician who served both King Charles I and his queen Henrietta Marie. The attribution of Mayerne as the author of these recipes is almost certainly spurious.

Grated quince infused in brandy for a couple of months makes a delicious cordial water called Ratafia of Quinces. This really is one of the best flavoured liqueurs of all time and is easy to make. It works extremely well, though a fruit press does help. The recipe quoted here is that of Vincent La Chapelle, master cook to the Duke of Chesterfield in the 1730s. La Chapelle first wrote The Modern Cook, in English while in Chesterfield's employment. A French edition was published in 1735. It is one of the great eighteenth century classics and had a strong influence on upper class food in England. To some degree, La Chapelle borrowed some of his recipes from his predecessor Massialot, who composed a book on court cookery and confectionery in 1692. Massialot included a recipe for a ratafia flavoured with the juice of muscatel grapes and orangeflower water which is still made in some villages in Champagne and Burgundy.

Taffety Tarts Quince marmalade or sliced quinces were added to apple pies and taffety tarts to improve their flavour. The taffety tart filling illustrated above also contains preserved orange.Taffety tarts borrowed their name from the textile material called taffety, but why this was the case is not understood. A more elaborate taffety called tuff-taffety was popular for making hats in the Tudor period. Hannah Wooley, the seventeenth century writer on domestic matters gives a recipe for a tuff-taffity cream, which is a smooth frothy cream garnished with red current jelly.

Trotter Pies

Another favourite quince flavoured pastry dish of the seventeenth century well worth reviving is the Trotter Tart. Robert May's 1660 recipe is given in the opposite column.

Quince Pye; Or Tart.

Boil your Quinces in Water, sweetened with Sugar, till they be soft, then skin them and take out the Cores; after that boil the Water with a little more Sugar, Cloves, Cinnamon and Lemon peel till it becomes of the thickness of a Syrup; when cold lay your Quinces in Halves or Quarters, scattering Sugar between each Layer; put a pint of the Syrup, or more according to the Biggness of your Pye or Tart, make the Coffin round with close or cut Covers, and bake it pretty well. And thus you may do with Pippins and Pearmains, or with Winter-Fruit, and also with green Codlings.

From - The Whole Duty of a Woman. London: 1707

Title-page of The Whole Duty of a Woman 1707

The title-page of The Whole Duty of a Woman (London: 1707) from which the quince tart recipe above is quoted.


Printed Cotoniac

Although it looks like some great Tudor seal, this beautiful stag is printed on to a delicious translucent quince paste, known in the seventeenth century as quiddany or cotoniack.

Sir Hugh Platt's Quidini of Quinces

Take the kernells out of eight great Quinces, and boile them in a quart of spring water, till it come to a pinte, then put into it a quarter of a pinte of Rosewater, and one pound of fine Sugar, and so let it boile till you see it come to bee of a deepe colour: then take a drop, and drop it on the bottome of a sawcer, then let it run through a gelly bagge into a bason, then set it in your bason upon a chafing dish of coles to keep it warm, then take a spoone, and fill your boxes as full as you please, and when they be colde cover them: and if you please to printe it in moldes, you must have moldes made to the bigness of your boxe, and wet your moldes with Rosewater, and so let it run into your mold, and when it is colde turne it off into your boxes. If you wette your moldes with water, your gelly will fall out of them.

Sir Hugh Platt Delights for Ladies (London: 1600)

[Image: illustration 1 of 1 for lot 349]

A quince paste mould carved with the arms of Phillip V of Spain - 18th century.


A delftware charger with a selection of white and red quince marmalades as they were made in early Stuart England - both printed and knotted. These delicious pastes are totally unlike modern orange marmalades. Many early modern period confectionery texts give recipes for both colours of quince marmalade. The recipes below are those of a Mr Borella, confectioner to the Spanish Ambassador to the English Court in the mid eighteenth century.


Let your quinces be full ripe, boil them till they are quite tender, drain and sift them as usual; reduce the marmalade (on the fire) to a paste-consistence, stirring continually, accord­ing to the quantity of quince-marmalade; refine a pound of sugar to three quarters of quinces; mix them together on a very flow fire without boiling, put it into what form you please directly, and dry as usual.


To make the paste of a fine red, bake the quinces in the oven a long while, then peel and sift them in a strong hair-sieve; dry the marmalade over a slow fire a little while, to about half the consistency of a paste then to redden it the more, keep it a good while on a slow ashes-fire, stirring some time; and to add to this redness, put a little steeped cochineal, and reduce it on a flow fire, to a thick paste; that is, when it loosens from the Pan; put as much sugar as marmalade, or paste, soak it a little while on the fire and let it cool, just enough to work it well with the hands, and finish directly as usual.

From Borella, The Court and Country Confectioner (London: 1770)

Historical Notes

Medieval English cookery texts give recipes for sweet fruit pastes called chardequince and chardewarden, made from quinces and pears (wardens). However, these were thickened with eggs and were probably designed for immediate consumption. Although true preserves of quinces were imported into England from the Mediterranean, they don't seem to have been made here at home until the sixteenth century. They were shipped from Portugal, Genoa, Spain and France and were variously known as marmalades (from the Portugeuse marmelo - quince). Other names were cotoniack, quiddany and diasetonia. The last was a term used by the London apothecaries, who prescribed these sweet pastes and jellies for helping the digestion. This was the reason why quince pastes were served after the meal during the banquet course. In 1629, John Parkinson, the Covent Garden based herbarist to James I, wrote,

"There is no fruit growing in this Land that is of so many excellent uses as this, serving as well to make many dishes of meate for the table, as for banquets, and much more for the Physicall vertues".

White and red quince pastes were both popular, the latter sometimes being coloured with barberry juice or cochineal. Quinces were also considered to be an aphrodisiac - probably the reason why seventeenth century London prostitutes were known as marmalade madams.


These 'faire yellow Peare-Quinces' are just like those described in John Murrel's first book of banquetting stuffe recipes, A Daily Exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen published in 1617. His recipe is given below. Murrel's publisher, the Widow Helm, sold the moulds for printing Genoa Paste and Cotoniac from her bookshop in St. Dunstan's churchyard.
To make Paste of Genua, as they doe beyond the Seas

Boile faire yellow Peare-Quinces tender in their skinnes, and so let them stand vntill the next day, till they be colde, then pare them, and scrape all the pulp from the coare, then take as much pulp of yellow Peaches as the pulp of Quinces doth weigh, and dry it vpon a little chafingdish of coales, alwaies stirring it, then boile these pulps in double refined Sugar, and so let it boile, always stirring it vntill it come to a candie height, with as much Rosewater as will melt that Sugar, and put in your pulps, alway stirring it in the boiling, vntill it come from the bottome of the Posnet, then fashion it vpon a pie plate, or a sheete of glasse, some like leaues, some like halfe fruits, and some you may print with moulds, set them into a warme Ouen after the bread is drawne, or into a Stoue, the next day you may turne them, and when the stuffe is through dry, you may box it, and keepe it for all the yeere, but be sure it be through dried before you lay it vp in store.

From John Murrel, A Daily Exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen, (London: 1617)

To Preserve Quinces

Take Quinces and weigh them, core and pare them, then take for every pound of Quinces a pound of Sugar; then take Quinces and grate them and strain them; for every pound half a pint as the juyce of the Quinces, and half a pint of fair water; the water, and sugar, and syrrop must be first boyled and clean skimmed, then put in your Quinces and turn them still to keep the colour of them: then let them boyl so till the Quinces be tender, they must seethe very softly, for fear of breaking; and ever as the scumme ariseth, you must take it off with a feather.

From Archimagirus Anglo-Gallicus; Or, Excellent & Approved Receipts and Experiments in Cookery, (London: 1658)

Ratafia of Quinces

You must have some Quinces, and rasp them with a Grater; all being grated, you must have a Piece of strong Cloth, put in a small handful, and squeese it with all your Might, that the Juice may come from it; when all is squeesed and you have all the Juice, put it in a Preserving pan, let it take just one single Boiling, and let it cool; being cooled, measure two Quarts of Juice and two Quarts of Brandy, Measure by Measure, and clarify some Sugar; to each two Quarts, ten Ounces of Sugar, a Piece of Cinnamon, four Cloves, and three or four Grains of white Pepper whole; stop up your Jug very close, put it aside for two or three Months, put it through a Straining-bag, until it come very clear, and put it up in Bottles flopped very close.

From Vincent la Chapelle, The Modern Cook (London: 1733)

Historical Notes

A ratafia was an infused alcoholic cordial water which was produced without distillation. The classic flavour was made from the kernels of apricot or cherry stones. As a result, the English sometimes called these drinks 'kernel waters'. Ratafia made from peach kernels was called persico, while that from bitter almonds was known as noyeau. They all have a sweet marzipan flavour like the Italian liqueur amaretto, which is in fact a ratafia. The crushed kernels were infused in brandy or aqua vitae for a couple of months before being filtered out and sweetened. There is a danger in trying to replicate these drinks, because the stones of these fruits all produce a small amount of cyanide when soaked in water! Be warned. It is much safer to make quince ratafia from La Chapelle's recipe.

Come buy my greens and flowers fine, your houses to adorn
My butcher knives to please your wives and bravely cut your corn
Ripe strawberries here I have to sell with taffety tarts, and pies
My brooms to sell will please you well if you will believe your eyes

"Rang'd in thick order let your Quinces lie
They give a charming Relish to the Pye".

Quince Tart

A slice of quince tart made from the recipe on the left. The Whole Duty of a Woman or a Guide to the Female Sex is an early eighteenth century book which offers moral advice to ladies as well as a range of recipes for medicine, cookery, preserving and cosmetics. A book with the same title, but completely different content was published in 1737. This recipe for a quince pie or tart is excellent as a thick syrup made from the cores and skins is used to heighten the flavour of the fruit.

Quince Crostata

Pastello de poma cotogne - or quince tart made from a recipe in Maestro Martino, Libro de arte coquinaria, perhaps the most important cookery text of the early renaissance. The hollowed out quinces are stuffed with bone marrow, sugar and cinnamon and baked on a puff paste base.

Quince Pudding

Back to Recipe Index
Home About us Courses Galleries Shop Events Links Bookings Recipes