Have you ever eaten a Medlar?
I ate my first about six years ago … and then last year we planted a Medlar tree. This year we have fruit.
It is a weird fruit! It is a member of the rose family despite having the look of an apple about it, albeit with a rather large ‘flower end’ which has in medieval times given it the slang name of ‘open-arse’ . To me it has associations with Elizabethan England though it is not a native tree and has been cultivated since Roman times. But it is not its appearance that is strange – this is a fruit that has to be ‘bletted’ a word from the French which means ‘softened’ and to do this it has to start to decay – rather like some cheeses, it goes soft through maturation. Once soft the acidic pale fruit turns a rich brown and becomes paste-like. Once the outer papery layer is peeled off it can be eaten, tasting like thick apple puree which has been flavoured with spices, perhaps cloves and cinnamon. They do have hard ‘pips’ or seeds’ within them too.
The second weird fruit we have just harvested is a rather late planting of Physalis peruviana or the Cape Gooseberry. This is the first time we have grown these in over thirty years. A friend gave us these plants, the first lot we grew in the first greenhouse we owned when we lived in Plymouth. Back then no-one had seen them before – they were truly exotic … today they seem to adorn almost every dessert we have when we eat out* (* not that we eat out often – but these are always there) However, there is something still a little magical about the golden ball of tart sweetness hidden within the delicate papery lantern.
The third fruit we have been harvesting is another ‘gooseberry’ the Chinese Gooseberry (see how I linked those last two) or as it is more commonly known – the Kiwi Fruit. ‘Well, they are not strange or weird’ I hear you say. Though I always think they are a little weird as fruit goes … the strange thing is that our crop is grown in Cornwall UK .. and our few plants, as in some other years, yielded 657 kiwi fruits! These we stand in egg trays in a cool vermin-proof shed, and bring one tray indoors at a time to ripen an soften ready to eat … they last us well into spring.
One unusual fruit that we have tried to grow but have not had any success with is the black Mulberry. Where I grew up we had an enormous and very ancient mulberry tree. Quite possibly one of those planted in the 17 century when they were imported and planted in the hope of rearing silk worms to make silk on them. Unfotunately someone was misinformed, as the silk worms prefer the White Mulberry. I loved that fruit and really wanted to grow one here, but all types of propagation and buying of stock resulted in failure. To me, the taste of the mulberry is the taste of my childhood.
Have you ever eaten a medlar, nicely bletted? What did you think it tasted of?
Do certain fruits bring back memories for you
Do share, you know I love to hear from you.
By the way … ‘The Angel Bug’ is now available in Paperback from AMAZON all over the world, and to order from all good bookshops, everywhere.