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.