Medlar: What is it? The medlar (Mespilus germanica) is a large shrub or tree that produces fruits in the late fall and early winter. It’s a member of the rose family, which makes sense because the fruits are reminiscent of large rose hips. The fruit is said to taste like apple butter, with hints of cinnamon, and vanilla. https://gardenandhappy.com/medlar/ How do you eat it? Medlars need to “blet” to make them edible: the rotting fruit produces sugar and a more intense flavor, like stewed apples with a touch of date. The flesh of bletted medlars is scooped out with a spoon, after baking the rotten fruit for a quarter of an hour. This delicacy is accompanied with a glass of port. Jelly is a more practical way of dealing with the harvest: use a combination of bletted and unbletted fruit, the latter containing more pectin to help the jelly set. https://www.gardenista.com/posts/the-medlar-a-strange-but-charming-tree/
This is a step-by-step guide of how to make medlar jam, or, as it's technically a cheese, how to make medlar cheese. The medlar was a common fruit in Victorian times and has since been rather forgotten, but now it's coming back into fashion, and quite rightly so, but there are not many medlar recipes about.
Better and bigger varieties of medlar are on the market and people are planting the pretty medlar trees, but few know what to do with the fruit. What to do with medlars? This is just one idea but I've found a few other medlar recipes.
What’s the difference between a jam and a fruit cheese?In a jam whole or chopped fruit is cooked to a purée, but to make fruit cheeses, the fruit is passed through a sieve. You need to pass the cooked medlars through a sieve to get rid of the skin and the relatively large pips leaving behind only the flesh, so this recipe is technically a 'cheese'. In other words, this is a medlar puree, or fruit paste recipe.
Ingredients for your medlar cheese
2 lemons and half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon for every kg of whole fruit
Sugar: Less than the same weight of sugar to puréed fruit. I used about ¾ sugar to fruit
Water to cover
A little vanilla (or vanilla essence
How to process medlars and make the medlar jam Wash the fruit - I didn’t bother to chop mine; speed is of the essence, quarter the lemons and put the medlars, the lemon; cinnamon and the water into a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently until the fruit is soft. Rub the fruit through a sieve. This is time-consuming and a pain if you have a large quantity (as we do). Time it so that you can listen to a good play on the radio, put on your fave music or watch Inspector Morse et al on TV. Put the puree back into the jam pan, add the sugar and slowly bring to the boil, then simmer gently until reduced by about half. Your jam is now ready to go into the pot.
Medlar fruit cheese makes a wonderfully spicy Christmas treatThis jam can be used as a spread on toast, bread and croissants, it goes wonderfully well with cheese and you can use it as a sauce or topping at Christmas. Why not make medlar cheese as a Christmas gift? Cook your own! Enjoy! Freezer tip! Once you've made the medlar puree you can put it in the freezer and make the cheese or jelly later on.
Cooking and preparation times Normally the medlar fruit are picked when hard but left to blett - soften and turn brown. Use bletted medlars but include about 25% hard fruit to encourage setting (advice from Nigel Slater). The fruit should be washed and cut in half, then simmered until soft, about an hour but it does depend on how ripe the medlars are, so perhaps it will take you fifteen or twenty minutes to clean and chop but you might not need to simmer so long. The next stage is to leave the medlar pulp to drip overnight. Then the liquid is boiled rapidly for 10 minutes or until it reaches the setting point. (Nigel Slater suggests 2 - 10 minutes but mine took much longer) The jelly is then put into jars, say about fifteen minutes. Of course you'll need to clear up afterwards. It is a labor of love, but you'll have a very unusual and unique product at the end. YieldMakes about 8 500g jars - but again this is very much a guess. I boiled mine for too long - someone came to the door just at the critical moment - and I think I would have more jelly if I'd watched over it more closely.
1 - 2 Lemons, Zest made into thin strips and juice
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract, For a sweet jelly
How to make medlar jelly
Wash the medlar fruit if necessary, remove leaves and debris, cut them in half or roughly chop and put them into a large casserole, cover with water and simmer until soft - about an hour
Put a muslin or jelly bag over a large bowl or casserole and spoon in the mixture and juice. Tie up the muslin bag securely with a good length of string, press out as much juice into the bowl as you can.
Work out how you can suspend your muslin full of pulp over the bowl and leave over night. I tied mine onto the handle of the top row of kitchen cupboards and set my bowl on the work surface below to catch the drips. You might have to use your ingenuity.
Next day squeeze out as much of the remaining juice as you can. Save the pulp and use it for something else - I made it into a medlar cheesecake, see the link below for the recipe.
Strip or grate the zest of the lemon(s) and squeeze out the juice. Take the rind from your lemon(s). I like to use a zester that makes the rind into little, thin ribbons - you can see them in my photo of the medlar jelly at the top of this article. If you don't have one, use a potato peeler and then slice the pieces into thin strips with a sharp knife.
Squeeze the juice from your lemon(s)
Put the lemon rind and juice, medlar juice, sugar into the jam pan. (You can add the vanilla, if you're using it, at the end), bring to the boil stirring until the sugar is dissolved and then boil rapidly until setting point, around 10 minutes but advice ranges from 2 minutes to 40 minutes so test regularly. Finding the setting point is the most difficult part - I use the 'forming a skin' test). I put a little onto a cool plate and push it with a finger; setting point is reached when it wrinkles a bit. Using a jam thermometer the temperature should be 220 - 221°F
Put into sterilized jars (you can do this in the oven, I use a microwave but my friends think that putting through the dishwasher on a hot setting is sufficient). I use a jam funnel and ladle for this.