Saturday, June 26, 2010
Medlar, sounds like someone the Knights Templar might have wanted to conquer and growing wild as it does in old Persia, they may well have come across it.
Perhaps it was some cranky homesick knight who visited opprobrium upon its leathery skin, calling it a dog's arse, an unfortunate metaphor which bears some skerrick of visual truth.
If you think that's ugly, things only get worse.
When picked, medlars are unusable and require transformation from rock hard to soft and gooey, in a process called bletting.
Essentially, the fruit is left to break down into a paste, which is when it becomes usable. At this point, there are undertones of dates and can be consumed as a fruit.
If you want.
For the true glory of medlars is only revealed in a jam pan.
Related to quinces, there is some similarity in flavour when turned to a jelly, but there is a turbocharged aromatic punch that occurs when the ugly duckling transforms into a beautiful swan.
Medlars aren't the sort of fruit you might buy, you need to know someone with a tree. Mine came from the boys, Graeme & Tony, who run 68 Main, a wonderful B & B in Birregurra, with acres of garden that one never tires of. They suggest the addition of star anise to the jam pan adds complexity, cinnamon works well too.
375g sugar per 500ml strained juice
juice of 2 lemons
jam setter (for emergency)
Leave the fruit to blett for a few weeks (completely soften) and place in a preserving pan with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for 90 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the degree of bletting. Strain through muslin or jelly bag. Do not push on the fruit or you may end up with cloudy jelly.
Measure the liquid and add 375g sugar per 500ml of liquid along with the lemon juice. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 10 minutes until setting point is reached. To test for set, place a couple of plates in your freezer, put a spoon of jelly, cool in the freezer then run your finger through it. If it parts like the Red Sea and crinkles at the edges, it's ready. If not, keep cooking for another 5 minutes. If there is still no set, add some jam setter according to the instructions and test again.
Pour hot into sterilized jars and seal.