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

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.


15 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!

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