I’ve been curious about medlar’s since I saw them on an episode of ‘Tales from the Green Valley‘ – a fruit to grow at my latitude that’s fruit is ready in the fall after the apples are done. According to a British* website the fruit are ready to harvest late October to early November.
Medlar fruit is described as looking like a huge rose-hip – which isn’t surprising as this tree is part of the rose family. Native to Iran and Turkey, medlars were moved around by the Greeks and Romans throughout Europe. They are even mentioned by Shakespeare.
This fruit is eaten after it is ‘bletted’ which is an almost rotten stage. Apparently, at this point they taste like a ‘really good apple butter‘ – but I have no idea because I’ve never had access to one of these fruit to try. I’ve also read medlar’s are good with port at the end of a meal, highly suitable for jam making with their high pectin content and can be made medlar cheese.
Yesterday at a local market, in the 20% off plant section I found medlar trees. The plants available at this market change frequently, so I couldn’t count on these trees being there for long. Since, I had no idea if they were self-fertile or not I bought two trees. Ironically, now that I’ve checked, many of my gardening books make reference to medlars. They are self-fertile so I’ll be giving one tree to my brewmaster friend as I’ve seen a few references to medlar wine.
They’re a nice looking small tree with very hard wood from which spear points, fighting sticks and windmill parts have been made from. An added bonus is bees love the flowers. I’ll plant my tree in the front yard this fall behind a deer-proof fortification. In three to five years I can expect twenty pound harvests – hopefully I like bletted fruit (I’m looking forward to trying them). If they aren’t to my taste, I can always fashion fighting sticks from it’s branches in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
*my island in the Pacific is at the same latitude as the British Isles, so I generally assume what grows there will grow here.