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« "Moorish Recipes" by John, Fourth Marquis of Bute | Main | "Cookery and pastry", as taught and practised by Mrs MacIver, 1773 »

July 22, 2007

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john hughes

hi i recently found a medlar tree, funnily enoigh outside RSC theatre in Stratford upon Avon. I helped myself to about 1 1/2 kilos of Medlars. I am curious how you made your Jelly. Did you wait until they had ripened?

Adam Balic

Hi John-

what an odd coincidence. Making medlar jelly is essentially the same as making quince or apple jelly. The difference is letting the medlars age and break down. If you store them in a cool dry enviroment they will start to soften and the skin will wrinkle after a few weeks. If you make the jelly before this stage there will not be nearly as much flavor in the jelly and it will not have the lovely smokey flavour typical of medlar jelly. Good luck!

Luke Downs

Interesting article. I just came across a loaded medlar tree next to an equally loaded Quince, (Cydonia), in an overgrown garden in Nanoose Bay, Vancouver Island. The owner was very impressed that I knew what it was and invited me to pick them. I picked probably 2 kilos of medlars and at least double that of quinces and hardly scratched the surface. Inspired by your article, I shall ask if I can go back for more medlars and try your jelly.

Adam Balic

For a realtively unknown fruit, it seems to have quite a wide distribution. It seems to be very hardy, so maybe this is one reason for this. My parents have 30-40 different fruit trees, due to very late and hard frosts the melar was the only tree to have any fruit last season, even though it was growing in the most exposed position.

By all means make the jelly, it is simple and very delicious. Let me know how it turns out. Another thing to try would be the melar "cheese" and tart that I have linked to on Ivan Day's site.

seahorse

Very informative as I'd cautiously just removed my medlars from under my bed to see how they were doing. Squishy and brown, ready to go I reckoned so they're simmering now. Your jelly looks really lovely. Gorgeous colour.

Adam Balic

How did your jelly turn out?

Mr. Chrisven Skelly

11/09/2007

Where can I mail order purchase MEDLAR JELLY here in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA only?

Adam Balic

I'm afraid that I don't know as I live in Australia.

donkey

I fell in love with medlar jelly last year. After about three months of buying the stuff every week, the shop and the producer ran out - they need more trees.

I bought my own tree and have just picked my first harvest. Most fruits are only half-bletted at the moment. I shall leave them a while, then get to work.

Adam Balic

That is great to hear. I made an attempt at describing the flavour of the jelly, what are your impressions?

My parents Medlar trees have just finished flowering and are now covered in small fruit. Hopefully a good harvest this year.

Lin Whitehead

Medlar Jelly is fantastic we being a small producer of specialised preserves produce Medelar,Quince, Rowan Berry and Crab Apple Jellies as part of our range of products, infact some of the 2007 Medlar & Quince Jellies have been produced from fruit harvested from Ann Hatherways cottage Stratford Upon Avon UK

Basil K

Medlars are not very common these days here in Hungary, even though they used to be centuries ago, they say. I just picked some in my grandfather's orchard today. It is the very last fruit to ripen, he says. How weird that it needs to be exposed to frost before it can be eaten. I guess the ripening process takes place before the bletting, doesn't it? I suppose frost just changes the texture so, that it can be eaten.

Nudge McAuliffe

Extremely good article.I found a tree in the garten of a local ``Winzer`` here in the Palatinate in Germany.My awareness had been awakened by an article in a magazine about living in the country.the Austrians call them Asperln, but the Germans call them Mispel.
A Schnaps is made in the Saarland from them.I will look out for it.The article I read mentioned that the medlar was traditionally to enhance the taste and the shelf life of wine and cider.

Nudge McAuliffe

Extremely good article.I found a tree in the garten of a local ``Winzer`` here in the Palatinate in Germany.The Austrians call them Asperln, but the Germans call them Mispel.Schnaps is made in the Saarland from them.I found a recipe that recommends rubbing Mispelgelee onto the skin of a roast goose for the last 20 minutes to make the skin especially crispy and succulent.My wife found 6 trees yesterday outside Kallstadt.

Adam Balic

Given the scientific name of the Medlar, I am very pleased to get this information about the use of medlars in Germany. Roast goose is traditional in our family for Christmas, so if the weather isn't too hot I will certainly try this.

Luke Downs

Hi again. A month later and the medlars are all bletted and we made jelly yesterday. Actually it turned out more like a thick syrup, as it didn't really set. Not so bad, as we like waffles, pancakes, etc. It tastes delicious.
Not setting may be partly my fault. I didn't add as much sugar as I had liquid. It was so sweet from the fruit and I didn't want to lose the fruit flavour in simple sugar sweetness, so I cut back by about 10% or more.
Over the last month, we have eaten them raw from time to time and enjoyed them.
One problem: How do you tell when a bletted medlar has gone past it? While waiting for enough to be ready to use for jelly, some seemed a bit too far gone, and I discarded them. A conoisseur may tell us they are the best!

Adam Balic

Hi Luke,

the only fruit that I thought had to be discarded where those few that were desiccated or had gone mouldy (on the interior).

Sorry to hear that the jelly didn't set. Cutting back on the sugar is the likely reason, but there are other possible reasons as well. I usually have a cold plate, that I drop spoonfuls of the mixture on. When it sets on the plate it is ready. If pectin is heated for too long it's jelly potential can also be reduced. If you have lots if the syrup and would still like to make some jelly, buy some commercial pectin and follow the instructions. In the UK and Australia you can also buy ready mixed sugar and pectin for jelly, although I must admit that I haven't used these as I like the special texture of medlar jelly.

Another trick is to add a few quince, these are high in pectin and don't mask the medlar flavour at all.

Sorry I didn't mention all this before.

Robert near Forest of Fontainebleau

Been picking kilos and kilos of medlar from the forest, more than 10 to this point. Best to leave the fruits on the tree until they are bletted. Heard of a trick which is to pick the unbletted fruit, then shove them in the freezer for a couple hours, then take them out and watch them "bletting". Maybe if the fruits fine and the weather doestn't seem to go towards frost ? We were lucky this year.
Cheers to all medlar amateurs.
RM

nigel

What a wealth of information. Here in Southern Spain they are called Nispero. My builder offered me one of his Nispero cuttings and planted it today ! I am sure it will be bearing fruit in a few years. He also gave me two young pomegranates.

Adam Balic

Hi Nigel,

you are very luck to be in Southern Spain, I spent as much time as possible in Jerez and Sanlucar when I lived in Scotland!

I think that there is a chance that what you have been given isn't the medlar that is discussed above (as you say "Nispero" in Spanish), but is the loquat or Japanese Medlar(Eriobotrya japonica) which is often called "Níspero japonés", but most often just "Níspero". Similar looking, but very different fruit. Very tasty and hardy though and you can eat the fruit fresh of the tree.

Another fruit to look out for in Southern Spain is the "jujube" which have a texture like a dryish apple, but taste like apple and caramel.

Axel

I just picked my first real medlar harvest. I have about three different cultivars growing in my garden, and this year is the first year they started to give a good harvest. I live in Coastal Central California overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Meldars are like the "date of England". You have to let them "rot" a little to soften them just like a date or a jujube. Then they are exquisite, musky, yummy, like apple sauce spiced with leaf litter.

I am still trying to discern variability in flavor from cultivar to cultivar. It's also a very beautiful tree. Anyone else trying to grow these? Mine grow alongside bananas, passion fruit, and tropical guavas. It's quite nice to see a fruit that hails from the cold, frosty chilly climates of Western Europe grow amidst tropical delights. The contrast is fascinating. They bear quite well in our mild climate and they even blet right on the tree.

Ruth Dimion

We found a medlar tree beside Gray Creek store, on the east side of Kootenay Lake, British Columbia, Canada. The owner's ancestors brought the tree over from England at the turn of the century.

Adam Balic

Hi Ruth,
that's really interesting, obviously the original owners thought that the fruit was important if they made the effort to import the tree!

I've actually just bought a few more of the trees myself.

Marta

Does anyone know where can I buy medlar fruits in the UK? I live in Yorkshire... Thanks in advance.
A medlar lover

Bruce Slark

You can buy several cultivars from the Agroforestry Research Trust on line at: www.agroforestry.co.uk
I have the cultivar Large Black Russian and have just made my first batch of medlar cheese without the allspice have left in my fridge to set but the warm cheese was delicious.Will try the jelly next. By the way the trees will fruit within a couple of years. Good luck.

Bruce

Adam Balic

Thanks Bruce,

In Australia it is possible to source, Dutch, Nottingham and Royal varieties. They are one of the most hardy fruit trees that we are growing at the moment.

Juanita Meekis

I harvest the same tree in Gray Creek, BC, that Ruth mentioned above. It was planted by Arthur Lymbery. In fact I'm making Medlar jelly from its fruit again this year. It's one of my favorites - right up there with Oregon Grape (Mahonia) - for flavour.

Anna

Fascinating! I'd never heard of this fruit before, and while I'm not sure about eating things that have to rot first (It makes me think of snorgear, the scandinavian rotten shark dish), Ido find odd fruit intriguing, things like durian etc. Will be keeping my eyes out for these!

rafii

Anyone knows which Medlar cultivar is suitable for Southern California where there is no frost? My one Medlar tree fruits profusely but the fruit does not ripen at all, on or off the tree. It does not blett.

julie

I have just moved in to a cold mountain area in Victoria, would love to plant a medlar.I purchased a jar of organic medlar jelly by Emily hill farm at a cafe in Loch and the flavour is sublime. Can you advise of the best variety and where I could purchase a plant, also is there any time of year its best to plant.

Adam Balic

Hi Julie,

the best time of the year to buy and plant medlars (or other fruit trees) is winter (July/August). At this time of the year the trees are dormant and you buy them bare rooted.

There are two varieties that you are likely to come across, "Nottingham" and "Dutch". The former has the best reputation, although the Dutch is highly regared also. Very occasionally you might come across a variety called "Royal", which is similar to the Dutch type. They don't take up a lot of space, so you could easily plant two.

Flemmings Nursery supply both varieties, so if you follow the link below you can find out which nurseries near you stock Flemmings products and order through them.

http://www.flemings.com.au/fruit_listing.asp?variety=Medlar

Deand

I have 100 medlar trees in Southern California. The trees are loaded with fruit. They will be ready for picking in November. I do not know what to do with all of the fruit. Any suggestions?

Adam Balic

That is lot of fruit. Medlar jelly is obvious, but another thing to do would be to make medlar cheese, in the same way that quince cheese/paste is made. It was popular in the 19th century and will look like chocolate.

Richenda

Thanks to all of you. We bought a tower in Tuscany early this year and I was puzzled by the odd tree that seemed to be related to the apple. I have jars and butter muslim at the ready but looks like I will have to wait a few more weeks for jelly.

Jane Pugh

I have been making medlar jelly for 20 years for my B & B guests. The tree is beautiful. I took a sample to a fruit nursery here in Kent and they did not recognise it - it was thought to be a seedling tree - it was planted by John Russell the last owner of Cranbrook Windmill - who built our house. The fruit is large and the tree has wonderful twisted boughs - it looks beautiful all through the year. I did not realise you were supposed to blet the fruit - using unripened fruit still works if you add a cooking apple and a lemon to the mix before boiling and softening to a pulp. Interestingly I have made batches over several weeks and an early harvest makes a very pale jelly - subsequently the jelly darkens as the season progresses. I have just picked some to blet this year and will be trying one batch with lemon juice and one with apple added to see what the difference is. I am also going to try medlar chutney and cheese.

Adam Balic

Hi Jane,

that's lovely to know that you are using your medlars. There is an old medlar growing on the Birdcage Walk (St James Park, London), which is very old, with twisted branches that sweep down to the ground. The fruit on this tree looked different to the cultivars that I grow, so I imagine that there are more growing here and there.

Bletting gives a different flavour profile to the preserves, almost smokey.

This link to Ivan Day's website shows the amazing colour of preserves made with bletted medlars.

http://www.historicfood.com/medlar%20cheese%20recipe.htm

Sue Fenton

I think the Spanish nispero is related to the loquat that I have eaten in China, it's used in their favourite cough medicine. It's a golden fruit with 2 stones that grows on an evergreen shrub/tree. I am going to make medlar jelly, and may be tempted to add some Japanese quinces[chaenomeles]--would that be a bad mistake?

Sarah lewis

re buying in the UK
I'm off to Fingringhoe Farm in essex this sunday to get some. No website. phone 01206 735405, Mr and Mrs Trollope. They will post but the postage costs more than the medlars!
I am looking forward to my first go at this jelly. This bletting business sounds interesting.

Dinqah Steveni

I lived in SOA too for 25 years, and we planted a Nottingham Medlar in our garden in 1985/6 at No 2 Garden Row in SOA. Lovely jelly. I recall the medlar in the Theatre Gardens. Each year at Shakespeare's Birthday Celebrations the medlar tree was under the tent! Great article thanks for taking the time. I planted a medlar in 2005 and this year have a bumper crop at last and making jelly! I'm in Mount Vernon, WA now.

Debbie Reynolds

I have just made a gorgeous spicey chutney using Medlars. The recipe is one from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall and can be found on www.channel4.com/food. You make a medlar jelly and then use the pulp for the chutney, so nothing is wasted. From 1 recipe I got 3 jars of lovely jelly and 7 jars of chutney.

Paul T

Well I made Medlar brandy this autumn, from a prolific Medlar tree in the village. Think sloe gin, damson gin, then Medlar brandy.

Adam Balic

Sounds like a good thing. As it happens I have some medlars, so medlar brandy it is.

Jenny Cantrill

Hurrah for the medlar! My friend gave me some and I'm waiting for them to blet - and yes, the jelly is delicious. I've been told that if I pierced them with a knitting needle I could cut down on the jelly straining - not sure if I'll try it.

Cherie

Hi, I have just bought 2 Nottingham Medlar trees today and a plant auction in Wisbech. I liked the colour and texture of the trunk, and I had heard of Medlar. Cant wait to plant them in my new garden, and five it all a sense of history.Found this site really interesting. thank you

Anna Mason

I would like to ask Luke Downs from Vancouver Island where the Medlar tree is in Nanoose Bay. My sister lives in Nanoose Bay, and I would like to try some medlars after reading all the comments on this fruit. I have a quince tree and already am familiar with the jelly one can make.

Lynn Hilden

Hello! i live at the top of the South Island in New Zealand and came across a Medlar tree next to a Persimon tree. I have picked loads of fruit from both and am going to make the jelly in the receipes above!

NIna

I was told that all Great Estates must feature the three'Ms'. Magnolia ( graniflora variety of course), Mulberry and Medlar.

I spotted one growing in the Thames Embankment Garden behind tha Savoy hotel in London. It was heavy with fruit.

Eric Skoglund

I live in Victoria, British Columbia and have a very prolific medlar in my back yard. I would like someone to make use of the fruit as I usually end up composting most of it. If you wish to congtact me my e-mail is [email protected]

Istvan

Good to find info on this fruit on the web!
I know them since I was a boy, you can occasionally find them in markets in our parts (western Romania), but they're not always properly bletted, sometimes rotten instead.

Now I've got my own trees, one of them already bearing fruit, a small basket of them this year.
I just picked them this weekend and layed them out to blet.

What I want to ask you is when is then best time to pick them?
I picked a few off about a month ago, layed them out to blet, but they did not, just withered up and dessiccated.
The rest have now been through 5 consecutive nights of frost, some hard, so I picked them off fearing they'd spoil.
But the tree is still green, amazing!

What do tou think?

pauline crofts

a complete novice at jam and jelly making but they are free and plentiful here so nothing ventured nothing gained as the saying goes wish me luck .

Anna

I found a medlar tree at my college where i'm studying horticulture. The college is an old country house, with what must have been lovely grounds, but sadly the college struggles to maintain them. The medlar tree was tucked away behind a shed, but was covered in fruit. I managed to get some of the other students to help me collect a load, and now they've bletted, I'm going to try and make medlar jelly this evening.

Heather Hasthorpe

Medlar jelly: I picked medlars from the trees and picked up a few fallen but solid fruits. To make jelly I left them in a bowl in the kitchen, a warm place, until soft then chopped them in half. I added three lemons roughly chopped and a pound or so of bright crab apples for pectin and colour, and water. Cooked in the oven for an hour. Strained the juice overnight.
Boiled with sugar 1lb to 1 pint until setting point, I use a jam thermometer. Beautiful colour and set solid. Super delicate flavour.
Heather

Marybelle Beigh, Westfield Historian

Please, regarding the definition of the medlar fruit from the 18th century, do you have the name of the source. We need it for documentation of source in some writing about heirloom fruits.
Thanks. Marybelle Beigh
Westfield Historian

Adam Balic

Hi Marybelle,

the original quote is:

"MEDLAR, a fruit, vulgarly called an open a—se, of which it is
more truly than delicately said, that unless it is as rotten
as a t—d, it is not worth a f—t."

From "A classical dictionary of the vulgar tongue" By Francis Grose (1785)

karen dames

Hi! I'm here in South Africa and have allways wondered what kind of fruit this was. Thanks for the inspiration!

john matthewman

hi my name is john and am starting a busniness of unusual jams ect wonderd if u know of any medlar trees in the north yorkshire area scarborough as i want to make the jelly to try it first

Margriet Theorn

The medlar tree in my garden on the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand's North Island is flowering for the second year. Hope that there will be enough fruit this time to make jelly. Very informative article!

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