Monday, 22 November 2010

Medlar ... where have you been?

The Medlar
Align Centre
I've seen pictures of medlar trees, I've read about Medlar trees, I've seen a medlar tree, but until yesterday I had never eaten a Medlar.

Wow, what can I say - they are truly wonderful to eat. So sweet, and a lovely texture, like chestnut puree when the are ready to eat. We are now absolute Medlar lovers. Alex wants to buy a tree, well actually he wants to have a Medlar orchard but that's another story, maybe a tree for now.

So what are they? Why don't you see them around?
The Medlar is an ancient fruit that was native to Iran, records show it has been cultivated since the 2nd Century BC, grown by the ancient Greeks and Romans. They were popular in the Victorian era but have since gone out of favour, although there must be many of them still around in old gardens.

"Medlar fruit are very hard and acidic, only becoming edible after being
bletted (softened by frost), or naturally in storage given sufficient time.
Once softening begins, the skin rapidly takes a wrinkled texture and turns
dark brown, and the inside reduces to a consistency and flavour
reminiscent of apple sauce."

So why don't we see them often? Well as it says above, they need to become bletted to be edible, which means they go brown and soft and don't look all that attractive ... but get beyond the look and they are delicious, trust me. Commonly they are made into jelly, jam, fruit cheese (nothing like dairy cheese!), and wine. They have another common name, but I shan't repeat that here, it's too lovely a fruit to lower the tone of this post.

The Medlar tree heaving with fruit
Picking and sorting

So yesterday we spent a couple of hours at a local community garden which just happens to have a lovely Medlar tree for a "Medlar picking event". The tree was heaving with fruit which we have seen growing over the year, and we all got to work with baskets, crates and whatever else we had to pick and store them. An hour later, after much laughter, and some comic moments up ladders (nobody was hurt!), we had picked this little lot.

Medlar harvest 2010

Not so little, and many of these have come home with us as we had the transport to move them and the interest in using them, others did too so hopefully nothing will go to waste.

Basket of delight

So last night after looking through some books and websites we settled on making Medlar and Lemon jam which has been dripping overnight. Many other jams, jellies, chutneys to follow. The other thing we made last night was a tart - bit like a pumpkin tart, and oh it was so lovely, here it is - if only you could smell and taste it. Sweet, delicious, soft and rich. With the addition of cinnamon and ginger this smells and tastes of the Christmas festive season - taste of a rich Christmas fruit cake but without the dried fruit (bonus for me as I can't stand fruit cake).

Medlar tart

So if you ever get the chance, please try this lovely fruit, a lost treasure. Have you got an old garden, know of an old garden or village green with a medlar tree maybe? Don't be put off by the looks, try it ... you won't regret it.


  1. Your making my mouth water with that pie, mmmmmm.

  2. I've often wondered about medlars. Never found a tree though, but do have some recipes. Enjoy your harvest.

  3. If I could find a way to post you some fruits safely I would, we have loads and will need to just freeze many to store them.

  4. Yeah, sending fruits through the post doean't really bear thinking about!! Not unless you like medlar puree!

  5. I've never come across a medlar tree. Your tart looks delicious.

  6. Wonderful !!! We are going to move in an old graded II listed house in UK; We were wondering what was that tree in our garden with the estate agent. Now I know and I can cook it !!!Many thanks

  7. Thank you for sharing about medlars, the pie looks yummy. I had been offered some this year from an old tree in the village and had no idea what they are. I was not keen on the jelly making and had no idea what else you could do or what they tasted like....come on next autumn


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