Medlars are a hardy fruit that look like a cross between a small apple and a rosehip. When ripe, they’re hard and green. They’re picked at this stage, but aren’t edible until they’ve become half rotten or ‘bletted’, when they turn brown and soft. Harvested medlars are stored in sawdust or bran in a cool, dark place until they’re suitably bletted and have developed an aromatic flavour.
Look out for medlars in farmers’ markets or gardens at the end of November. Choose undamaged fruit.
Medlars can be stored in the fridge for a few days.
Once the medlar has been bletted it can be eaten raw, but it is an acquired taste. Mix its pulp with sugar and cream or eat plain, accompanied by port. Medlar fruit makes good fruit or jelly. Chop whole, bletted fruit and stew before straining and making in the usual way. Traditionally, medlars are also turned into a ‘curd’ style of fruit cheese, where the strained pulp is cooked like lemon curd with eggs, butter and sugar.
Article by Sybil Kapoor