Quittenpästli: Quince Candy for Christmas

Cooking and baking for the holidays often involves pulling out those recipes you only use once a year. It’s the season for more complex recipes, with many ingredients or pages of instructions. In Switzerland’s canton of Zurich, a traditional Christmas recipe for Quittenpästli has very few ingredients, but requires lots of patience (and stirring!). I made this quince candy during the week leading up to Christmas and wanted to share the recipe I used, in case you have some time on your hands during the holiday vacation…

quince

The first time I made Quittenpästli (Pâte de coings in French), I cheated and added some apple to the mix. This worked, but the high pectin content of the quince helps to create a more firm candy, so I recommend sticking exclusively to quince. While the quince has an especially hard texture when raw, it thankfully softens up when cooked. This year, I used a recipe from the NZZ (Neue Zürcher Zeitung) blog, Nachgewürzt. (NZZ has unfortunately taken down the page with this recipe, but here’s another recipe from Andie Pilot at Helvetic Kitchen).

If you don’t want to make your own Quittenpästli, there are two producers in Zurich still making it the traditional way with quince from the canton, and using a recipe dating back to 1835. The Slow Food Foundation has recognized these producers’ Quittenpästli with a Presidium label, an international effort to preserve culinary heritage.

quince candy

We’ve already eaten all of the homemade Quittenpästli… I look forward to sharing more Swiss food and drink specialties, as well as culinary travel recommendations, in 2016. Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

Updated: November 30, 2020.

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