Friday, 2 December 2011
This is the first time we've ever just sat down and eaten medlars as desert properly. Crops up to this point have either been so small we've just jammed them before fully ripe; the last couple of years I haven't picked any due to illness, which always seems to strike this time of year. I have casually snacked on them, but usually with my mind on other things. The box of hard fruit I picked last week had all 'bletted' in that time, and were completely soft and brown.
They really do taste very good. I know that they really defy description, but the nearest thing in flavour and texture is a fresh date (the very soft Iranian kind, rather than the dried variety, which are much sweeter). We eat them with Bamm dates and Brown Turkey figs, and the flavours went very well together. They have a taste of their own, with a slightly winey quality. They are slightly annoying to eat, they cant really be picked apart with cutlery, so the soft contents have to be sucked out, along with the 3-4 enormous stones.
I don't know what the size of crop was in weight, but it filled two fruit boxes.
The variety I grow is Nottingham; which isn't credited with having a good flavour in many books, but looking at the descriptions of the few available varieties at Keepers Nursery, Hamid Habibi considers it to have a good flavour, though prone to cracking (which I've never had a problem with); I would agree that they have a very short shelf-life once they begin to ripen, but then there's probably a limit to how many you want to eat fresh once the novelty has worn off. They do however make a very nice fruit butter (esp. with a little added cinnamon) and a good base jam for adding to deserts like pear frangipane or Bakewell tarts. I recently came across a recipe for medlar tarte, made with butter and egg yolks added to Medlar butter.
The only other thing is that the foliage of Nottingham is rather small and narrow, so the trees lack the grandeur of the Dutch kind, which have large leaves and a nice habit. Still a very attractive small tree, with excellent buttery autumn foliage colour which lasts longer than most.