Medlars

A while ago I went to a talk on apples at the village hall.  The subject, for reasons I forget, turned to the medlar.  The chap who was giving the talk was a guide from Brogdale. He mentioned that the medlar has a rather rude traditional name, chuckled to himself, and then left the remark hanging.

The folk name he declined to mention is ‘open arse’.  I can picture generations of country people sitting round the fire a guffawing about that one – in the days when country people sat round the fire rather than blobbed out in front of Strictly and the X Factor with everyone else.  Perhaps giving fruit rude names was what passed for fun in darkest Sussex back in them days.  Perhaps it still is…

It’s pretty obvious why the fruit got it’s other name.  It’s bottom does have a rather sphincter-like appearance.  Don’t let that put you off.  It’s a gem.

My favourite use for the medlar is to make medlar liqueur.   It’s one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted, it’s dead simple to make and it uses up all that rotten cheap brandy you can buy in Lidl that would only otherwise mess up your liver without you having much fun in the process.  This recipe improves it immesuarably – indeed if you were thinking of reaching for the Armanac to make this – don’t.  It would be a complete waste.

It’s this easy…  Collect your medlars from the ground.  Throw away any damaged ones unless they’re in very short supply.  Wash them.  If they’re not already ‘bletted’ (it essentially means rotten but bletted sounds a lot nicer) pop them on a tray and wait for them to go soft. They’re next to useless hard so be patient.

When they’re suitably soft get a large needle, gently prick them all over and put them in a preserving jar.  Make a batch of sugar syrup.  Again it’s very simple; use two parts sugar to one part water.  I used a measuring jug and measured 50cl of sugar and 25cl of boiling water, adding the sugar to the pan of boiling water as I stirred.  I let it boil for five minutes (don’t let it boil too hard), stirring constantly.  I then tipped the sugar sulution (by then reduced to just over 50cl) back into the jug and stood the jug in a pan of cold water to cool it.  You don’t need to do this.  I’m simply impatient.

When the syrup solution is fairly cool pour it over the medlars until it comes half way up the jar.  Then add brandy until the jar is full.   Seal the jar (mine seemed to leak!) and up-end it a few times to mix the brandy and sugar together.

Now here’s the very difficult bit; leave it for 6 months, ideally a year.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  If you are disappointed please bring your medlar liqueur to me and I’ll make sure it goes to a deserving home.

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13 Responses to Medlars

  1. I made medlar mont blanc with mine this year…but liquer would be tasty. How would you describe the flavour?

    • Good grief, that’s a difficult one. You have the sugar and the brandy underneath but the medlar gives it an addition flavour between a quince and a plum, perfumed like a quince, generously and softly fruity like a plum. There’s no harshness to the liqueur. I think it’s wonderful. I lived on a boart for years and kept a bottle distilled from jars made my my parents. I’d only sip from it occasionally because it seemed such a treat.
      Just don’t give it to your friends and say ‘have a swig of last year’s open arse’. They’ll probably spit it out.

  2. Wonderful – I have just had a disatrous medlar jelly experience, This sounds much easier and a lot more fun!

    • Mind you if you drink too much of it you could have a host of new disastrous experiences, but then you might not worry about that too much. Less flippantly though it is pretty straight forward. It’s also worth mentioning that while I make mine using a sugar syrup my father claims he makes his using caster sugar, simply adding it to the jar and topping up with brandy. I’m not convinced but then what do I know…

  3. I have umpteen jars of medlar jelly that I made in November – finally got the process licked and even made a batch with some chilli in it! I also made some medlar brandy but am having trouble decanting it – still quite cloudy and when it finally settles, I’m not sure how to get it bottled with stirring it all up again. Ideas/suggestions/advice welcome!

    As if all that isn’t enough, I have kept the mashings from the brandy, de-pipped it and intend to knock up a batch of chutney!

    If anyone wants some of the jelly, let me know……..

    • Brilliant! Not sure why the medlars in brandy have gone cloudy. I leave mine a minimum of six months. Generally most things just need patience and a steady hand to decant. If the sediment is coarse you could put it through a fine tea strainer, if it’s finer perhaps use muslin. Personally I wouldn’t worry too much. Do let me know what you think of it when you try it.

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  6. Ineke says:

    Seeing that you’re very impatient, why not pop the hard medlar in the freezer for one night? Take them out, put them on a rack or tray and you find it speeds up the bletting process 🙂
    Can’t wait to try this recipe!!

  7. Ed Koetsier says:

    Does it ferment further? All that suger and wild yeast on the medlars….. does any CO2 escape?

    • Sorry for the late reply – the answer seems to be no. It remains pretty inert. I have medlar liqueur that is decades old. That’s probably because I don’t often feel moved to drink what I’ve made even if it is delicious. Nevertheless it’s not doing anything exciting

      • Ed Koetsier says:

        That’s OK. I got a bumper crop this year from my 6 foot high tree. I bletted about 5 kg’s and made 2 gallon jars of liqueur. One with sugar syrup, one with erythritol and stevia syrup (I’m diabetic). They will be ready on Christmas Day. However, I also make and distill bourbon, and I age it quickly by aging it with oak chips for a week, and then put the jar in an ultrasonic cleaner for an hour. It is quite indistinctual from bourbon that has been aged for 2 years. Maybe it will be similar with medlars…..

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