Thursday, 19 November 2009
Making medlar cheese
Not many medlars are grown these days, which is a shame; it's an easy tree to grow, doesn't get too big, is interesting in its growth habits , has lovely foliage in the late autumn and produces the above strange little fruits. Funny little brown things with a star-shaped flat surface opposite the stem end; the French name for them is "cul de chien", which translates as dog's bottom!
The curious thing about medlars is that they are not edible until bletted - this means left to go very soft and squidgy, changing from yellowish green in their unripe state to a mid to dark brown. They can be left on the tree, when the first frost will blett them, or picked and brought into a warm kitchen and left in a warm airy place until ready.
For making the medlar cheese, the first thing you need to do is extricate teh flesh; when they are so soft, a gentle squeeze will break the skin, and you can squeeze out the flesh into a dish; there are five big seeds in there too, so just get all the insides into the dish to begin with. I then put the resulting pulp through a sieve, directly into the weighing pan of the scales. When that's done, the skins are put through a colander, along with the pulp from the sieving; this gets the pulp off that is sticking to the insides of the skins and around the pips - surprising how much more you get. Be warned, it's a very messy operation! The end products should be a heap of smooth raw pulp and a heap of dryish skins etc for the compost heap or chickens:
Weigh the pulp, and put into a heavy based saucepan; add in the same weight in white sugar, stir well, and cook over a lowish heat until dissolved:
Move the pan to a higher heat, and leave to bubble away until really, really thick - you should be able to draw the wooden spoon over the base of the pan and divide the contents, as in cooking chutney. It will plop and guggle like a volcano, and make a mess of the stove top, but it needs a long steady cook to reach the end stage, where you should have a thickened slightly grainy mass that refuses to drip from the spoon. Lightly oil your moulds - I used muffin tins, and I hope to be able to turn them out successfully, and these should give a good shape.
That's them cooling now; I'll leave them until tomorrow, covered, in the kitchen and turn them out and store them for Christmas. Some may be given as presents, tied with cellophane and a ribbon. I'm sure it would be a welcome gift, as I suspect few people have tasted it.
Any other folks grow this? If not, are you tempted?
Posted by MrsL at 15:45