How to Make Medlar Jam
Medlars and Medlar Jam
This medlar jam recipe is really a medlar cheese recipe
This is a step-by-step guide of how to make medlar jam, or, as it's technically a cheese, how to make medlar cheese. The medlar was a common fruit in Victorian times and has since been rather forgotten, but now it's coming back into fashion, and quite rightly so, but there are not many medlar recipes about.
Better and bigger varieties of medlar are on the market and people are planting the pretty medlar trees, but few know what to do with the fruit. What to do with medlars? This is just one idea but I've found a few other medlar recipes.
Our medlar tree
We were lucky enough to inherit a mature medlar tree when we moved to Videix, a sleepy little hamlet in Limousin in south west France. We came here to set up a Bed and Breakfast, and holiday cottage in Limousin, 'Les Trois Chenes', and we use the fruit to make a jam, or, to be precise, a 'cheese' that makes an excellent addition to the Christmas Breakfast menu for our bed and breakfast guests.
The Common Medlar (Mespilus germanica) is a pretty small tree for the garden and easy to grow. Ours was planted at the bottom of the vegetable garden and is now partly in the area that we keep the hens. So far it has never failed to produce a good crop right at the end of autumn when all other fruit has finished.
What’s the difference between a jam and a fruit cheese?
In a jam whole or chopped fruit is cooked to a purée, but to make fruit cheeses, the fruit is passed through a sieve. You need to pass the cooked medlars through a sieve to get rid of the skin and the relatively large pips leaving behind only the flesh, so this recipe is technically a 'cheese'. In other words, this is a medlar puree, or fruit paste recipe.
Harvesting the medlar fruit
Medlars are an unusual fruit and not suited to the supermarket, so I expect that you will have gathered, grown or have been given your medlars. If so, this is what you do with them next.
Medlars are small and round, yellowish when mature and then they turn a reddish brown in November. They are very decorative with their five large, star-shaped calyx at the end. They hang from the tree like Christmas baubles after the leaves have dropped.
Hard and inedible until they start to decay they should be harvested as late as possible in November. Leave them in a box in a cool dry place until they become soft and juicy. This ripening process is known as "bletting" the Medlars.
You can eat them raw, they taste a bit like stewed apple and the dark brown flesh has the same texture. They can also be used to make jam (or cheese) and jelly.
What you will need to make the medlar cheese
- A jam pan - mine is a lovely French copper one which is also decorative when not in use
- Wooden spoon with long handle
- Old jam jars. You can use any other sort of jar but beware lingering odours
- Heatproof jug or special jam funnel
- Jam covers, if you like, but I don't bother with these
- Labels or something to help you remember what it is and when you made it
Ingredients for your medlar cheese
- Medlars, ‘bletted’
- 2 lemons and half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon for every kg of whole fruit
- Sugar: Less than the same weight of sugar to puréed fruit. I used about ¾ sugar to fruit
- Water to cover
- A little vanilla (or vanilla essence)
Prepare your jars and utensils
Save your old jars and wash them and the tops in hot soapy water. It's nice to soak off the labels before hand - but I admit that, being a 'Rustic Cook' I never get around to soaking mine.
Put the jar tops and the funnel into a pan, cover the tops with water and bring to the boil with the pan covered. This will sterilize them. It is important that your jars, lids and any other equipment are sterile, otherwise moulds and bacteria will spoil the jam. Having said that, a little mould on the top of the jam is normal, and my great aunt used to just scrape it off. You can buy paper jam covers to pop on the top, but, again, I don't bother with this and so far I haven't found that my jam has gone mouldy.
I sterilise the jars in the microwave by pouring a little water into the bottom of each and microwaving on full for 3-4 minutes. If you don't have a microwave you can put them into a traditional oven.
How to process medlars and make the medlar jam
Wash the fruit - I didn’t bother to chop mine; speed is of the essence, quarter the lemons and put the medlars, the lemon; cinnamon and the water into a pan and bring to the boil. Simmer gently until the fruit is soft.
Rub the fruit through a sieve. This is time-consuming and a pain if you have a large quantity (as we do). Time it so that you can listen to a good play on the radio, put on your fave music or watch Inspector Morse et al on TV.
Put the puree back into the jam pan, add the sugar and slowly bring to the boil, then simmer gently until reduced by about half. Your jam is now ready to go into the pot.
Medlar fruit cheese makes a wonderfully spicy Christmas treat
This jam can be used as a spread on toast, bread and croissants, it goes wonderfully well with cheese and you can use it as a sauce or topping at Christmas. Why not make medlar cheese as a Christmas gift? Cook your own!
Freezer tip! Once you've made the medlar puree you can put it in the freezer and make the cheese or jelly later on.
How to find the setting point of jam
- How To Find the Setting Point in Jam Making
How to find the setting point in jam making. Finding the setting point is the hardest part of producing your own homemade preserves. The recipe to successful homemade jam and jelly making every time.
More medlar recipes from Les Trois Chenes
- Medlar Cheesecake Recipe
This medlar cheesecake recipe is perfect for the Christmas and New Year festive season. Medlars are back in fashion but it's hard to know how to use medlars. Try this cheesecake and see what you think
- Medlar Jelly Recipe
Easy, step-by-step medlar jelly recipe instructions with illustrations. Medlars are back in fashion and medlar jellies are delicious conserves to eat with sweet and savory dishes.
Will you be making medlar jam?
Has this medlar cheese recipe inspired you to make your own?
© 2010 Les Trois Chenes