Medlars – an experiment with strange fruit

Have you met a Medlar?  Medlars on tree

The Medlar is known less politely as the ‘dog’s bottom fruit’ (and other related and even less polite descriptive names, discovery of which is left as an exercise for the reader!), and was once very popular, these days it seems to have been more or less forgotten, at least as a culinary fruit.  The Royal Horticultural Society describes Medlars by reference to their flowers and habit before their fruit.  They’re in the same horticultural family as roses, filed somewhere between pears and hawthorn.

Bletting medlarsI was lucky enough to be able to harvest a lovely little medlar tree, which yielded about a third of a carrier-bag full of fruit.  While late October / early November is the right time to pick medlars, they aren’t actually ripe and need to go through a process of ‘bletting’, where they are allowed to ripen fully in a frost-free, cool dark place.  The only place I have for a tray of fruit is the spare room, which while dark-ish and undoubtedly frost-free, is at house temperature.  Bletting is supposed to take 2 – 3 weeks, during which the fruit will soften and become a dark brown to black colour.  If it all goes well, I plan to make some medlar jelly, so I’ll be back in due course to let you know!

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