Medlar jelly

The medlars have bletted.

I am ashamed to admit that I haven’t been brave enough to try one raw.  You are supposed to spoon out the fruit and it should taste sweet and cinnamony, but look at them:

I couldn’t do it.

But I could put them in a pot with some cut lemons and boil them up for an hour or so, strain the liquid through muslin, add sugar and boil again to make jelly.  Now I looked at several recipes, including the one at Celtnet and Nigel Slater’s recipe in last Sunday’s Observer magazine and then of course adapted to make my own.

Now both of the above recipes state that you boil the juice and sugar for around 6 minutes.  I boiled mine for a lot longer before it finally looked like it might set.  At the first boiling of about 10 minutes the liquid was still very liquid the next day so I poured back into the pan and boiled again, probably for another 15 minutes or so before it finally showed signs of wrinkling when a little is spooned onto a cold saucer and pushed with a finger.  Now the reasons for this might be that I didn’t add enough unbletted medlars and so didn’t have enough pectin.  But then again Celtnet use all bletted medlars.  It might also have been my fear of burning things and so not having it at a rapid enough boil.  Maybe a gentle boil just doesn’t do the trick.  So I would recommend using about 400g of unbletted medlars (as Nigel recommends) and really boiling the liquid and not being a wimp like me.

The jelly is nice but I am not sure it is really worth the effort of waiting for weeks for your medlars to blet.  I think quince jelly is just as good and not quite as much faff.  If I had a medlar tree I would make them again, or if I receive a boxful again then I will make it, but I wouldn’t go to the effort of seeking the fruit out particularly. As the friend who gave me the medlars said to me, there is probably a reason why the medlar tree is not so popular as other fruit trees. Having said that I have enjoyed the experiment and I am going to attempt to make medlar fudge and that may be a different kettle of fish.

Strained medlar juice

2kg bletted medlars
3 lemons, sliced in half
2 litres of water
granulated sugar, for every 500ml of strained juice add 375g sugar

Method
Quarter the medlars and place into a large pan, add the lemons.  Pour over 2 litres of water and place on a high heat and bring to the boil.  Partially cover with a lid and allow to simmer for about 1 hour until the fruit is really soft.  The time this will take will depend on how bletted your medlars are.  It may take longer.

Pour the fruit and liquid into a jelly bag, or muslin square or a couple of clean tea towels and tie up and suspend from a hook or a tap ( I used the kitchen cupboard handle and a wooden spoon to secure it) until the juice has run out of the bag.  Don’t be tempted to squeeze the bag or the finished jelly will be cloudy.  Measure the amount of juice you have and pour back into the large pan and add 375g sugar for every 500ml of liquid.  My 2kg of fruit yielded 1.8 litres of juice so I added 1.35kg of sugar.  Put onto a medium heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved, then boil rapidly for at least 4 minutes.  Place a saucer in the fridge or under a very cold running tap and then spoon a little of the liquid onto the saucer, allow to cool slightly and then push it with a finger.  It will wrinkle slightly when it is ready.

Pour into sterile jars, mine filled 7 400g jars, seal and allow to cool.

Serve with roast meats, cold meats and cheese or even spread on toast for a breakfast treat.

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34 responses to “Medlar jelly

  1. You had me at “The medlars have bletted.” I have never heard of such a fruit. Very curious. Faff…Kettle of fish. I found your post very entertaining!

    • Hi Tracy and Michele , yes it seems I have slipped a few colloquialisms into that post. I didn’t mean to confuse my American friends. They are indeed ugly and strange fruit but I had to give them a go when I had the chance. I am looking forward to trying my medlar jelly out on Sunday with the roast dinner.

  2. Boy those medlars are some ugly fruit, but delicious I hope. A new word for me–“faff”–I’m going to enjoy using that one as much as using your “bits and bobs”.

  3. Yeah … not sure I owuld have tried one either lol. But I think you are very brave for attempting the cook with them and such great results too ;0)

  4. Well it certainly looks beautiful. I seem to remember that it did make a fairly soft jelly and I certainly boiled it for a lot longer than 6 minutes. But Kath you wimped out of actually trying the fruit!

    • I am glad you had a similar boiling experience, my mum confirmed that 4 minutes seemed a very short time to reach setting point and what she doesn’t know about jams and jellies isn’t worth knowing. I know, know I am a wimp. There are still some here so I may yet pick up the courage – but I doubt it.

  5. Just remembered, it was your quince jelly that originally got me reading your blog. Thank goodness for quince jelly.

  6. Oh they don’t look that bad raw. You should have been brave and popped one in you mouth pretending that they were chestnuts and then to your surprise the other flavours would have delighted your tastebuds.

    I heed your advice, I won’t go out hunting for a medlar tree and hope one-day I stumble upon one to try out some of these delights. Wonderful colours!

    PS Just an idea would you like to swap one of your Quince jellies for one of my home-made jars of chutney. Let me know what you think?

  7. MMMMMMMMM,..This endproduct looks quite fab & tasty!

    I never have seen medlars before, I know it is a fruit.And I don’t know what they are called in Dutch.

    • Hi Sophie, medlars are quite rare here, but this year they seem to be making lots of appearances. The Guardian newspaper even had a special offer on the trees this weekend, so perhaps they will become more popular. I couldn’t tell you what they are called in Dutch though, sorry.

  8. Kath, I have been so curious to see the bletted medlars cooked into jelly—great job! I do love the color of the finished stuff, er, faff!!

  9. I love how you always have all these interesting food that may not be so easily available else where in the world! So interesting!

  10. There’s hardly “effort” involved in waiting for medlars to blet – the process starts on the tree, and the secret is to spread a tarp underneath to ease harvesting into containers for the process of converting to sugars to continue. Still, you are the “ordinary cook” ho ho ho! Try it on your porridge with a sprinkling of walnuts – delish!

    Nice site

  11. Pingback: Medlars | Mad Dog TV Dinners

  12. I too tried Nigel Slater’s recipe. We have two medlar trees growing unregarded in a public space near us, and nobody ever seems to have picked the fruit, so we thought we’d give it a go this year. I also had trouble getting the jelly to set. Tried re-boiling, tried adding more lemon juice, in the end I had to resort to gelatine. But the end result is worth it. And, the fruits are delicious raw!

    • Well I am very impressed that you were brave enough to try them in their bletted state. You are braver than I. I am glad that you used that fruit that would have otherwise gone to waste. I keep seeing apple trees in people’s gardens loaded with unpicked fruit. It makes me very sorry.

  13. I’ve found your discussion on Medlar jelly whilst looking for recipes using this fascinating fruit! We’ve just got 2 1/2 lbs of fruit from NT Calke Abbey – most are ‘bletted’ some not so am looking forward to trying may be more than one recipe. I agree its so sad seeing so many apples lying unloved on the ground.

    • It’s wonderful to hear that you got your medlars from the National Trust. They seem to be working hard towards promoting local and rare foods to people recently, and making more use of their gardens and orchards, for which they should be commended. I hope you enjoy the medlar jelly and I would love to hear about what you end up making with your medlars.

  14. Good results from this recipe – I am tempted to go with the quince, however.
    Take a good look at them; you will see why the French know them as ‘cul du chien’. Google translate serves well…

  15. Hi, enjoyed reading your site – was looking for a recipe for medlar jelly as I have a few pounds gathered a few weeks ago. I have been brave enough to taste the fruit raw – in its bletted state. It tasted like a cross between a date and an apple – quite pleasant really. My partner thought I was mad to try it. Looking forward to making the jelly now.

    • Thank you Welsh Forager. You are braver than I am. I just couldn’t bring myself too. I am sure they taste good, they just don’t look very appealing. The jelly is very good though, so I hope you enjoy making and eating it.

  16. Have started to make it – now at the straining stage. Found the clothes horse an useful place to hang up the jelly bags – with a wooden spoon through the loops. I didn’t realise I had so many – beware if you go collecting fruit with a big blue Tesco bag. So the birds in my garden are having their first taste of bletted medlars!

  17. Been making medlar jelly for several years now since the medlar tree I planted ten years ago has given me enough fruit to make the jelly – one year the squirrel got them all so this year I picked end of November and left in a cool room to blet. Been making my first batch this weekend. However I couldn’t find my recipe so started hunting for some – I looked at Nigel Slater (never added apple before) and also an amazing old cook book by Jane Grigson called ‘Good Things’. Have adapted both to suit me. I had to boil the liquid and sugar for almost an hour to achieve a convincing set – but it looks good. I had so many medlars that I am now about to start a second batch! This time I will leave out the apple, just use lemon juice and rind. Out of curiostity, I did eat one raw – first time – and it was surprisingly pleasant! Smelled of mulled wine I reckon and tasted quite mulled and honeyed in a meady sort of way! However, I think in future I will keep the medlars for the jelly. I make quince jelly too which I like but don’t prefer, and I like to cook the quinces with apples as a fragrant dessert. I made membrillo once (quince paste) but that really is a faff and such hard work so now I buy that from Waitrose!

    • Hi Garden Forager, Thank you for the lovely comment. I love hearing other people’s adventures with the medlar. It does take longer than they say to achieve setting point doesn’t it? I might try and summon up the courage to taste a bletted one next time I get some (if there is a next time). I must try poaching quince next year. I haven’t got around to it yet and I must.

  18. We had two medlar trees planted on main A6 going out of Kendal,Cumbria. Ive walked past them many times but this time decided to gather them in as the other medlar tree has been cut down for some unknown reason, probably making mess on the pavement! Anyway, I gathered a lot each time I passed and this weekend decided it might enhance the flavour of the cold turkey and ham, we’ve got left after Christmas. Nigel Slaters seemed best recipe. I made 2 litres and followed his instructions. Boiled fruit, strained it and boiled resultant juice and still ended up with liquid. I put a small amount in a small saucepan and Lo! medlar jam. Put one litre in a bigger pan and boiled rapidly, ended up with liquid again. To try and end the faff I put Dr Oetekers gelatine in the rest of it and ended up with what looked like raspberry blancmange. The whole lot is now being recycled by South Lakeland District Council I hope for some cause or other, useful as coloured cement if they could get it to set. Can you believe it, I’m going to try again!!

    • Oh dear, well I am glad you are going to try them again and it’s good that you are making use of them. Were they bletted? Have a look at my post about the bletting process http://theordinarycook.co.uk/2010/11/09/meddling-with-medlars/ or they may have been too bletted perhaps? Try adding the halved lemons in the pot as this will add pectin and then you take them out at the end. I hope you have better luck this time, it does taste delicious and if not you could always build a new house with it 🙂

  19. I Found that the jelly took a fiar time to set – I also used lemons and also some medlars that were still hard. As these were very sharp tasting I assume they had more pectin in. I eventually had 17 jars and made unusual Christmas presents – everybody was puzzeled as to what it was. I melted some fo the jelly to use as a glaze on my christmas cake which I decorate with nuts and cherries – it looked very attractive. tonight we will try it with goats chesse at the end of our New Years eve meal with friends.

    • Ooh I like the idea of using it as a glaze for the cake. I hope your family and friends fully appreciate you and I hope you enjoyed last night’s meal. Goats cheese – yum! Glad it worked out well and yes it takes a bit of setting, much longer than the other recipes suggest.

  20. We have loads of medlar trees here – I’m in C Africa. Tell me, do I need to remove the stones before cooking for the first time, after bletting? That’s the fiddly part of the process. I sometimes combine medlars and guavas for a stronger flavour.

    • Hi Bridget,
      Sorry I haven’t replied earlier. I don’t remember my medlars having stones in them but because you are going to strain the juice then I should think that any stones will be fine and will probably add to the pectin levels. I have searched images of medlars and can’t find any that have stones in, so it might be worth checking that the ones you have are definitely medlars. I hope the jelly works well and the medlar/ guava combo sounds good. Best Kath

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