Monday, 23 November 2009
Christening the Medlars
Today I cooked Medlars for the first time, christened the Medlar you might say. I've been keen to try them for ages but they're difficult to get hold of these days. They were popular in this country in the Victorian era but have fallen out of favour in recent times, I don't think they are grown commercially anymore so you have to either find one growing wild or grow them yourself. Fortunately for me, someone with a Medlar tree in their garden was giving some away on our local Freecycle. I was lucky enough to be the chosen recipient and got my hands on a large boxful.
One thing I can say for certain, they are NOT a thing of beauty. Pictured are the raw fruit, looking squat, spiky and sullen and, believe me, the appearance does not improve on cooking. As you may already know, Medlars aren't fit to be eaten raw, you have to wait til they're rancid. Properly rancid - completely brown, soft and squidgy (more correctly known as 'bletted'). I bravely ate one raw which was, ummm, tolerable. It had an unusual sweet/sour taste which wasn't awful but I struggled to silence the voice in my head screaming "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? IT'S ROTTEN!"
Medlars are reasonably well known for making good jams, jellies and chutneys but seeing as we have huge quantities of all of those I decided to try Medlar 'fudge' (scroll down a bit for the recipe). I'm not sure the term 'fudge' is entirely appropriate as it's not a fudge by any stretch of the imagination but is much closer to a fruit butter. It's kind of like a smooth, thickish jam but not as thick or grainy as something like Membrillo which leads to another kind of Medlar christening - what should this recipe be called? Medlar curd? Medlar cream?.
The final product has a complex flavour. I can taste elements of quince, apple and pear in there, underlined with a rich, spicy, caramel, vaguely reminiscent of Christmas. It's indescribably delicious served as suggested in the recipe I linked to, that is, mixed with cream, crushed macaroon biscuits and drizzled with maple syrup. All in all a resounding success, I may even plant a Medlar on our mythical allotment - if it ever materialises.