Turn back the clock to the beginning of the 20th century and any Sussex resident would know and cook with medlars and be a mine of information about bletting and the suchlike.
But, the fact that this fruit looks so disgusting and we are not accustomed to eating anything, bluntly, half rotten, then this has fallen out of favour. But it’s really unfair, as it’s an exciting and delicious fruit that deserves it’s place at the table.
It’s not easy to come by now, as farmers weren’t able to sell crops, so sadly chopped down trees to make way for other more lucrative ways of selling fruit. So this has become something of a delicacy and a bit more unusual – and therefore more expensive.
But the taste is a real sensation and most people, when you read articles, are amazed at the depth and sweetness of this peculiar fruit.
You can’t get away from this term – you have to ‘blet’ your medlars. This basically means letting them go brown and wrinkly. When they look like they should be composted they are ready to eat. More about bletting here.
Or you could speed things up and try them roasted in this absolutely gorgeous recipe for Roasted Medlar and Walnut Bakewell Tart
A wintry twist on the classic Bakewell with rich walnuts and unusual medlars.
- For the walnut Bakewell tart
- For the roasted medlars
- Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
- For the tart, line a deep 23cm/9in tart tin with the sweet shortcrust pastry. Place a sheet of baking paper or foil over the pastry and weigh down with baking beans or rice.
- Place the tart tin onto a baking sheet, transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
- Remove the paper or foil and baking beans from the tart tin, then return to the oven for a further ten minutes until the pastry is lightly golden-brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Place the butter and sugar into a bowl and beat together until light and fluffy.
- Crack in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
- Add the ground walnuts and breadcrumbs and fold together until well combined.
- Spread two thirds of the damson jam over the base of the pastry case. Cover with the walnut filling mixture and smooth the top using a wet palette knife. Place the walnut halves around the edge of the filling.
- Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until risen and golden-brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, whip the cream until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Fold in the remaining damson jam.Watch technique 0:48 mins
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
- For the roasted medlars, heat the butter in an ovenproof frying pan and fry the medlars for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the sugar and cinnamon stick, then transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 10-15 minutes, or until the medlars are soft and the skins have split.
- To serve, cut the tart into slices and place onto serving plates with a spoonful of damson cream and some roasted medlars.