Weird Fruit

Have you ever eaten a Medlar?

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A plate of Medlars

I ate my first about six years ago … and then last year we planted a Medlar tree. This year we have fruit.

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Medlar – papery skin peeled off
Medlar – cut in half – puree squashed, one seed removed – top right,

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. DSCF7336 (2)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. DSCF7329 (2)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.


4 thoughts on “Weird Fruit

  1. I have never heard of a Medlar – think it is something new to try :). I love Physalis though. Never knew that the chinese call Kiwi Gooseberries. I love the golden Kiwis best.
    Living up in cold Scotland we can’t grow all these even our polytunnel does not help but I hope when I move somewhere warmer I will be able to have far more home grown fruit

    • Hi Susi,
      Thanks for commenting!
      We were amazed that the kiwis grew so well even here in Cornwall – so I quite understand that they wouldn’t grow well up in Scotland. I think medlars would grow up there – but they are definitely weird 🙂

  2. I have grown both Medlar and Quince trees in the past, with great success. Quince jelly = wonderfukl and we made it every year and we would keep bowls of the fruit in the house for its wonderful scent.

    Medlars…hmm..the pulp was too musky tasting and the jelly. which came out jewel red and evil looking was much too sweet. It looked like something the King’s poisoner might produce! But we loved the shape of the medlar tree and its beautiful flat white blossoms. We would leave the fruit on the tree and when softened by hard frosts the squirrels and birds enjoyed them.

    Tomatilloes would be unusual in England, but maybe would need a green house. We still grow these every year for Mexican salsas. I wonder if they aer the same family as Cape Gooseberries?

  3. Hi Erika, nice to hear from you again!

    Quince! I had forgotten about these – we used to grow them at our old house – at least the japanese variety (smaller than from the tree) and made an aromatic and sweet wine from them.

    I hadn’t heard or tomatilloes until now – but I see it is related to the cape gooseberry. We grow this in the greenhouse – so the tomentilloe would probably do as well there.
    thanks for commenting

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