I’m always fascinated by fruits and vegetables that are less common nowadays than they used to be, such as quince, persimmons, and medlars. I recently received a bag of medlars, close to when they are perfect for using – rotten. Yep, you can’t use medlars until they are overripe, also known as “bletted.” Medlars that have bletted have an interior that turns buttery and spreadable, much like apple butter, but with a strong yeasty taste. I’m actually not a fan of the taste or the smell of ready to eat medlars, I discovered, but I found this article with a recipe for medlar jelly, so I figured I’d give it a try.
I separated the medlars I had into two groups – one group that had already been bletted (already soft and squishy to the touch) and one group that needed to blet further. For the second group, I laid them in a single layer on a plate and set them in our coldest window, as cold (but not refrigerator-cold) helps the ripening process.
I tried my hand at following the above article’s jelly recipe, following all the steps: quartering medlars and boiling along with a chopped apple and lemon, then letting it strain through cheesecloth into a bowl overnight and boiling into jelly the next day. However, while most of the articles I read said medlars should have just enough pectin to jell naturally (the apple helps increase the pectin), my first batch never jelled. It did get thicker, to the consistency of syrup, so that’s how we’ll use the first batch – just like we’d use maple syrup. The syrup is a beautiful rosy color and has a very mild, yet sweet taste (nothing like how raw medlars smell or taste, thankfully!).
A week later, I tried again with the second batch of medlars. I followed all the same steps, but this time I added Pomona’s Universal Pectin to the mix, following the directions/amounts in the box for quince jelly. The liquid never really reached a jelling point as far as I could tell, yet once I had ladled it into jars and it was refrigerated, it jelled up. Not as firm as I would have liked, but definitely jelly-like. It was interesting to note that the second batch was less vibrant in color and more orangey, but I’m not sure why.
I’m not sure why my medlar jelly wasn’t exactly successful. Perhaps I needed more medlars in each batch, or perhaps they needed to be bletted further (some of the ones I included weren’t totally bletted all the way through). Either way, I encourage you to experiment with these fruits and to see what you can come up with!