Last autumn I was lucky enough to be offered a large quantity of medlars and I have of course used them to make medlar cheese.
Medlars are strange fruit indeed. They have been grown in Britain since Roman times and would have been a familiar sight in on a medieval table but are no longer well-known. They are inedible until ‘bletted’: a stage beyond ripening when the flesh becomes brown and mushy. Their appearance at this stage is is quite enough to put many people off trying them, but even before that they resemble nothing so much as a large, brown squashed rosehip. Glamour is not their middle name.
Yet the taste of the fruit is a rare treat. It is sweet, fudgy, earthy, complex and like nothing else I know. It combines beautifully with spices such as cinnamon and allspice which seem to ’round out’ and enhance the flavour (indeed spice was often used in old recipes). Who knows, perhaps we will ‘rediscover’ this forgotten fruit yet.