Medlar Jelly

Medlars!  I’d never heard of them.

Wonderful with roast meats

Wonderful with roast meats

A good friend of mine lives on a property outside of Goulburn with a lot of medlar trees.  And the trees were laden with autumn fruit.  She posted a picture of the subsequent abundant harvest on facebook and how she was going to turn them into medlar jelly which is excellent with roasts, especially pork.

Medlars left to soften and brown

Medlars left to soften and brown

I wrote a comment saying I would love to see how the jelly turned out (especially as the fruit looked particularly ugly).

She immediately posted a comment saying a few kilos were mine.  She would organise to haul part of her harvest to Sydney.

Medlars!

Medlars!

Weeks went by.  I thought she’d forgotten me.  But then one day, Archie, after spending the day with Webb, my friend’s son, came through the door struggling with an enormous bag of medlars.

At first I thought they’d seen better days.  A lot of them had turned brown and some were even mushy.  And I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for my gift that I thought was headed for the bin.

Not a very attractive fruit

Not a very attractive fruit

But a little research on google and a reassuring voice mail from my friend, assured me all was well.  These medlars are ugly,  so ugly that in England they’re referred to as ‘dogs’ backsides’.

The key to dealing with a medlar is to pick the fruit when it is about to fall from the tree.  If you have to yank it, then you picked it too soon.  And once it’s picked, it needs to be left alone.  Left on a flat tray in a single layer until it’s rotten.

Medlar jelly

Medlar jelly

That’s right, medlars need to be bletted.  That’s a polite term for allowing them to soften and turn a brownish shade of more ugly.  This process can take up to four weeks after they’ve dropped from the tree which is why my friend was in no rush to get her harvest to me in Sydney.

Then, when they’re brown and mushy, like an ugly duckling becoming a beautiful swan, you can turn these mushy brown medlars into a pretty, rosy-coloured jelly that is a wonderful gift and the perfect accompaniment to your next roast pork with crackle.

A beautiful jelly

A beautiful jelly

But medlars aren’t only ugly, they’re also tricky.  Two kilos of medlars will give you medlar juice in a highly variable volume.  And depending on the amount of pectin in that particular harvest, the boiling phase to reach the jellying stage can also vary.  So making this jelly isn’t the product of reading a recipe well; you will have to be an intuitive cook and stand over the stove checking, weighing and guessing.

And there will be doubts.  Doubts that the brown sludge will turn rosy pink and doubts that it will even set.  But it does.  And when it does you feel like leaping around your kitchen doing the a happy dance.

Leave to drain overnight and yes, that is my tissue on the bench!

Leave to drain overnight and yes, that is my tissue on the bench!

From 2kgs of medlars I made four small jars of medlar jelly that we’ll use for our weekly Sunday roasts as well as have a couple of jars put aside for gifts.

And what does the jelly taste like!  Medlars are hard to describe as they have a flavour that is unique to them.  They’re a little like a guava which is a tropical fruit and medlars are not grown in the tropics.  The jelly is just like red currant jelly or cranberry jelly in that you know it pairs well with meats but with its own unique flavour.  They are like a quince in that they are no good eaten straight from the tree and they’re unique in that they’re the last fruit to ripen before winter.  Unique again in that they need to be bletted (rotted) before you can do anything with them and then there’s their taste.  It’s difficult to describe a medlar because the taste is unique to this brownish fruit.

Medlars turn into beautiful, rosy pink jelly

Medlars turn into beautiful, rosy pink jelly

To make medlar jelly you need to start a day ahead.  On Day One you make the medlar juice then overnight you strain the juice and in the morning you make the jelly.  Another point is that you shouldn’t try to squeeze more juice from the muslin sack than has been drained as that will result in an unattractive cloudy jelly.  Once the jelly has been poured into sterilised jars, it will last in the fridge for 12 months.

If you do have the good fortune to come across medlars, do make medlar jelly – you won’t be sorry that you did.

A beautiful jelly

A beautiful jelly

5.0 from 6 reviews
Medlar Jelly
Author: 
Recipe type: Condiment
Cuisine: British
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: varies
 
A unique jelly made from medlars that's wonderful with roasted meats.
Ingredients
  • 2kg medlars, bletted and halved
  • sugar (varies) 450gms for every 600gms medlar juice
  • 1 apple
  • rind of half a lemon
Instructions
  1. Rinse the medlars and halve them.
  2. Place in a big pot and cover with water.
  3. Bring to the boil and continue to simmer for around 60 minutes.
  4. Line a colander with several layers of cheesecloth or gauze, set it over a deep bowl, and ladle the cooked medlars and the liquid into the colander. Let it strain overnight undisturbed. Do not press down on the cooked fruit to extract more juice from it or your jelly will be cloudy.
  5. The next day pour the liquid into a large pot – you should have about 1 quart (1l). Put a small plate in the freezer. Add the sugar to the juice in the pot and cook the jelly until it reaches 220ºF (104ºC) or until it jells, which may happen a little before or after that temperature.
  6. To test the jelly, put a spoonful on the plate in the freezer and let chill a few minutes. If, once cold, it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it’s done. If not, continue to cook the jelly until it jells. When ready, if you wish, you can offset sweetness with a few drops of fresh lemon juice.
  7. Ladle the jelly into sterilised jars.
  8. The jelly will keep in the fridge for 12 months.
Wonderful with roast meats

Medlar jelly

Comments

  1. I’d love to make medlar jelly. I know people make it here but I’ve never seen it for sale. Perhaps it’s so good it gets hoarded? GG

  2. This looks like hard work Charlie:). But it sounds like it was worth it. Funny isn’t it letting them go rotten? Kind of like ageing meat for weeks till it starts to go green:))

  3. gorgeous jelly – how generous of your friend to give you a DIY medlar jelly kit 🙂 imagine the mush under the medlar tree – sounds like an interesting experiment but I think I must be wary of commenting on medlars in future in case I find a bag of them on my doorstep 🙂

  4. That’s one gorgeous jelly! I haven’t come across medlars here, wonder if they’re called something different….Of course, I don’t recognise them either! They sound very interesting. I love guavas amd quince, so if they taste remotely like those two, then I think I’ll like it. It’s so nice to have friends who share, last year I was given a 20kg box of peaches! Love food gifts 🙂

  5. It’s hard to believe such a lovely colored jelly could come from such a, well, disgusting looking fruit. You must need a lot of patience to make this.

  6. I’ve never heard of a medlar. They sound very interesting though. Does rotting them produce more sugar? Hopefully some day I’ll run across a medlar jam. I would love to try it and goodness knows I won’t be making a jam anytime soon. It’s one thing that scares me more than cakes!

  7. I’d love to sample this–I had never heard of medlars before!

  8. I’d never heard of them either! I’m really intrigued though – what an unusual fruit and I am interested to find out what they taste like.

  9. Those ugly “dogs’ backsides” make one gorgeous looking jelly! Charlie – I learned something noe today, because prior to your post, I had no clue medlars existed! I love guava and I am totally fascinated by medlars – I guess they are native to down New Zealand/Australia…

  10. This fruit is new to me too. I immediately thought of quince jelly when I saw the pictures which I see you mention as well. I’m unlikely to ever get my hands on any but I may run across the jelly one day so I’m glad to have learned about them.

  11. Okay, I’m trying to imagine who thought of waiting until they were rotten to make jelly? I’ve never heard of a medlar. You’re very clever to make perfect jelly the first time.

  12. LOL, I’m sure I would have tossed them! This is a new one on me, too, but I love fruit with meats (especially pork), so I bet it will be a delicious pairing. xo

  13. Years ago I tasted medlar and found the taste very unpleasant, may be because it was not ripe. Sure makes a pretty jelly, You are such a generous person, setting aside half of your hard work to give as gifts.

  14. Thanks for allowing me to learn something new Charlie! I wish I could come and taste this right now!

  15. Hi Charlie, how interesting, I did not know such a fruit existed. Sounds delicious!

  16. They don’t at all look appetising, yet that jelly looks gorgeous. I’ve not heard of them, but if I find them will have a crack. Happy weekend Charlie.

  17. I have medlar envy – Charlie – I tried to buy a tree a few years back! Must start looking again when we have our new garden. Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book has a bit about them for those who want to know more – quite an English fruit – I think.

  18. I had never heard of this unique fruit before, thank you so much for sharing. The jelly looks marvelous and thanks for all the tips around it. Having a fruit that needs to rot first would be a very interesting challenge…did you get many fruit flies?
    JT is always at me for leaving my tissues around the house too! XOXO

  19. It is so ironic that you are cooking with medlar today. Your gel looks so pretty and pink. I came across a photo here today on one of the local restaurants with “Stewed Bird nests with Medlar and longan fruits”. Hands down your recipe tops this… On a side note according to TCM medlar fruits are good to detoxify the liver, kidney and store eyesight. Sounds like it might be a great hangover cure… LOL

  20. I’m still waiting for my medlars to blet! We picked them a while ago and I’ve been waiting for ages. Some have ripened while others haven’t. I hadn’t really heard of them much either!

  21. Love it! I’ve never heard of the wonderful little things. The jelly looks divine and just the words of…” waiting for them to blet”, well that’s a big draw card for me. How often do you get to say, “yes, I’m just waiting for my medlars to blet.”? Not often 🙂

  22. I’ve heard of medlars and their interesting prep method, but hadn’t seen them before. I can see where they got that nick name from.
    I ventured into jelly making for the first time this year and am hooked, although mine was crab apple and required no putrefaction. 😉

  23. I’ve never heard of them – but can see how they get their nickname from the photo 🙂 Who thought of leaving them til they go mushy before using them? The jelly does look quite lovely – I’d be doing a happy dance too.

  24. What a gorgeous transformation. Gives hope for a few of us bletting around. lol

  25. Wow, Charlie… I have heard of them, and perhaps seen them at an orchard one time, but never cooked with them. Love, love, love this!!!

  26. I have never heard of a medlar but I love the glowing clear glasses of jelly that you’ve created. So so pretty.

  27. I’ve never heard of medlars, let alone medlar jelly! It’s a beautiful color in the jar! I admire your willingness to put so much of your time and effort into something you didn’t have much confidence in! This was quite informative and very entertaining. I love the introduction to a fruit completely new to me!

  28. I’ve never made or tried medlar jelly but it looks delicious! Thank you for such a wonderful and informative post, Charlie 🙂

  29. This is new! Have never heard of nor seen a medlar. It’s amazing how some so ugly (dog’s backside? :)) can be turned into such a beautiful colored jelly. WOW! Don’t think they grown anywhere around here unfortunately. Great looking jelly!

  30. marija nikolic-paterson says:

    Thanks for the recipe. This medieval fruit is beautiful. We made the stunning jelly for the first time last year and now we can barely wait for them to blet in order to do it all again. The rosy coloured jelly was sweet, syrupy and stunningly aromatic like quince jelly, but dare I say even better. As if that was even possible! So delightful is this jelly that my 16 year old son and my father are the driving force for making more as it is perfect on his thin crepes. We also made past/cheese with the remaining flesh, which was then cut into tiny cubes rolled into balls like lollies and could be coated in icing sugar or cornflour. Delightful little treats. This was also done with the quince paste.

    • Thanks so much for letting me know, Marija. Lovely to hear from you. You have come up with some great ways of using the jelly. I still have some jars leftover from last year. Recently I cooked a rolled loin of pork and along with the gravy, the medlar jelly went with it perfectly.

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  1. […] my kitchen I am again, meddling with medlars.  After my first batch of medlar jelly, I had enough fruit leftover to make a few more jars of jelly.  Tomorrow this will transform into […]

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