Selecting a fruit to experiment with was a fairly simple choice: I had a glut of apples and I had gone slightly overboard buying a wide range of different cheeses for Christmas so I thought a thick, sliceable apple paste would make an ideal partner to many of those cheeses, something like the classic British “fruit cheese” or Spanish quince membrillo.
I went for the simplest approach I could find, using just fruit, sugar and a little lemon juice. The apples are coarsely chopped, skins and pips included, and then cooked until soft in a little water. They are then drained and passed through a food mill to produce a soft pulp to which sugar is added and then cooked low and slow until a dark, rich, thick paste is produced.
I tried it with a number of cheeses. It worked particularly well with Thomasville Tomme, an aged raw cow’s milk cheese from the South of Georgia, but would also be great with a mature cheddar.
12oz granulated sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
Wash and roughly chop the apples. There is no need to peel, core or deseed them.
Put in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil over medium high heat and cook until soft, 12-15 minutes.
Pass through a food mill or sieve, leaving the skins and pips behind to yield a soft, mushy apple pulp. Return this to the pan, add the sugar, and cook over a low heat, stirring regularly, until the apple pulp darkens and solidifies to a thick, spreadable paste. This can take 2-3 hours so you need to be patient and regularly check and stir to ensure the apples don’t stick or burn.
Line a suitable food container with parchment paper. This quantity will produce a paste approximately 6″ x 6″ x 1″. I split mine between a couple of glass containers about 3″ x 4.5″ to produce an attractive looking small slab of paste for the Christmas cheeseboard.
Spread the paste in the container so it is even, then leave for at least 2-3 hours, preferably overnight, before using.
You can serve in simple slices but if your paste is solid enough you can use a cookie cutter to turn it into decorative shapes for your cheeseboard.