Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Foodie Curiosities: Medlars

I found out about medlars by accident. Back in the Autumn, I was in a lovely little shop called Haworth Wholefoods with my sister when I saw these funny looking fruits in a box by the till. The lovely shop assistant explained that these were medlars, and gave me some information about them. I bought a bag full, and took them home to try them out!

Medlars have been cultivated in Britain since the Roman period, and they fell out of popularity in the 17th century. Medlar shrubs are really hardy, and can grow throughout the year. Interestingly enough, their nickname in Middle English was 'openarses'... o_o

Medlars are not that readily available, but keep an eye out for them in farm shops and independent natural food stores. If you have a garden or an allotment, you can even try growing them yourself! I found a good RHS guide for growing medlar shrubs which you can find here.

You have to wait for medlars to 'blet' before you can eat them, meaning that you effectively have to leave them to rot for a few weeks! You'll know when they're fully bletted by their mushy brown flesh.

Bletted medlars with ripe brown flesh (left) and unripe medlars with white flesh (right).
Perfectly ripe!
Once they're 'bletted' and brown, they're ready to eat! I recommend having medlars with cheese on crackers. You can just scoop it out like a ready made chutney, and it has a really nice nutty taste. 

You can also make jam out of medlars, and I found a cool James Martin recipe for roasted medlars here

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