Traditional Medlar Jelly Recipe
Medlar jelly is a beautiful, clear, amber colored conserve with an unusual and distinctive taste. I based my recipe on an old book that my Grandmother gave me many moons ago, and tweaked it here and there to adjust it for today's palate.
You can make it sweet, as in this recipe and eat it on bread, like other jams and jellies, or you can cut the sugar a little, put more lemon rind and juice in, miss out the vanilla, increase the lemon and even add chillies and serve it with meat and cheese.
Because the medlar ripens in November (in France and similar countries), the fruit and jelly will be ready just in time for Christmas dinner and New Year celebrations.
If you can find these fruits or are lucky enough to have a medlar tree, why not try making this jelly? If you do, be sure not to waste the pulp - I've devised a cheesecake recipe which uses it up - "waste not want not!"
Medlars ready to to make jelly
Rate this medlar jelly recipe
What is a medlar?
Medlars are an old-fashioned fruit popular with the Romans and grown in Britain in Victorian times. The Latin name is Mespilus germanica, or Mespilus canescens and they grow on a small, decorative tree.
They are small, like crab apples, and have large calyix. They are mentioned by Shakespeare and have quite a bit of history associated with them. Read more in this Article below:
Find out more about the medlar fruit
- What is a Medlar Fruit (Musmula)?
The Medlar, (Mespilus), belongs to the Rosaceae family. There are two species, The Common Medlar (Mespilus germanica)and Stern's Medlar (Mespilus canescens. They are pretty, small trees with an attractive habit, beautiful flowers and attractive and t
Cooking and preparation times
Normally the medlar fruit are picked when hard but left to blett - soften and turn brown. Use bletted medlars but include about 25% hard fruit to encourage setting (advice from Nigel Slater). The fruit should be washed and cut in half, then simmered until soft, about an hour but it does depend on how ripe the medlars are, so perhaps it will take you fifteen or twenty minutes to clean and chop but you might not need to simmer so long.
The next stage is to leave the medlar pulp to drip overnight.
Then the liquid is boiled rapidly for 10 minutes or until it reaches the setting point. (Nigel Slater suggests 2 - 10 minutes but mine took much longer)
The jelly is then put into jars, say about fifteen minutes. Of course you'll need to clear up afterwards. It is a labor of love, but you'll have a very unusual and unique product at the end.
Makes about 8 500g jars - but again this is very much a guess. I boiled mine for too long - someone came to the door just at the critical moment - and I think I would have more jelly if I'd watched over it more closely.
Setting point of jelly test
If you don't have a thermometer to test the temperature, and you are going to use the wrinkle test then put a few small plates into the fridge ready.
More tips to help you to find the setting point in jam and jelly
- How To Find the Setting Point in Jam Making
How to find the setting point in jam making. Finding the setting point is the hardest part of producing your own homemade preserves. The recipe to successful homemade jam and jelly making every time.
- 2 kilos / 4.5 lbs Medlars
- 1,800ml / 3 1/4 pints Medlar juice, (After straining)
- 1 kilo / 2.2 lbs Sugar
- 1 - 2 Lemons, Zest made into thin strips and juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract, For a sweet jelly
Utensils and tools to make medlar jelly
- Large casserole
- Piece of muslin or jelly bag
- Large jam pan (if you don't have one just use the casserole). I have a lovely, traditional copper jam pan and I like to see it hanging on the kitchen wall when it's not in use - makes me think I have a real farmhouse kitchen. It is a thing of beauty that will last you all your life.
- Jam making thermometer (I don't have one but struggle to find the setting point and although I try not to fall for unnecessary gadgetry I'm going to give in and invest in a thermometer)
- Jam funnel - cheap and well worth buying one if you're going to make jams, jellies, chutneys and the like
- A large ladle
Medlar jelly step-by-step
How to make medlar jelly
- Wash the medlar fruit if necessary, remove leaves and debris, cut them in half or roughly chop and put them into a large casserole, cover with water and simmer until soft - about an hour
- Put a muslin or jelly bag over a large bowl or casserole and spoon in the mixture and juice. Tie up the muslin bag securely with a good length of string, press out as much juice into the bowl as you can.
- Work out how you can suspend your muslin full of pulp over the bowl and leave over night. I tied mine onto the handle of the top row of kitchen cupboards and set my bowl on the work surface below to catch the drips. You might have to use your ingenuity.
- Next day squeeze out as much of the remaining juice as you can. Save the pulp and use it for something else - I made it into a medlar cheesecake, see the link below for the recipe.
- Strip or grate the zest of the lemon(s) and squeeze out the juice. Take the rind from your lemon(s). I like to use a zester that makes the rind into little, thin ribbons - you can see them in my photo of the medlar jelly at the top of this article. If you don't have one, use a potato peeler and then slice the pieces into thin strips with a sharp knife.
- Squeeze the juice from your lemon(s)
- Put the lemon rind and juice, medlar juice, sugar into the jam pan. (You can add the vanilla, if you're using it, at the end), bring to the boil stirring until the sugar is dissolved and then boil rapidly until setting point, around 10 minutes but advice ranges from 2 minutes to 40 minutes so test regularly. Finding the setting point is the most difficult part - I use the 'forming a skin' test). I put a little onto a cool plate and push it with a finger; setting point is reached when it wrinkles a bit. Using a jam thermometer the temperature should be 220 - 221°F
- Put into sterilized jars (you can do this in the oven, I use a microwave but my friends think that putting through the dishwasher on a hot setting is sufficient). I use a jam funnel and ladle for this.
Presenting and decorating your medlar jelly jars
If you like you can then label and date your jams, decorate them with fancy paper or materials. Medlar jelly would make a great Christmas gift.
You can simply use a sticky label or you can buy pretty jam pot labels from the internet. I've used my photographs to create jam and jelly labels which you can buy. You can add your own text and even photographs. (See link below image)
Jam labels for your jelly
Use the pulp to make medlar cheesecake
- Medlar Cheesecake Recipe
This medlar cheesecake recipe is perfect for the Christmas and New Year festive season. Medlars are back in fashion but it's hard to know how to use medlars. Try this cheesecake and see what you think
Have you tried medlar jelly?
Links to other medlar recipes
- How to Make Medlar Jam - medlar cheese recipe
This Medlar jam recipe makes a wonderfully special and spicy Medlar cheese which is perfect for Christmas breakfasts (we serve this jam in our bed and breakfast near Rochechouart, S W France.) The Common Medlar (Mespilus germanica) is an old fashione
Medlar trees - how to grow your own medlars
- How to grow medlars
Grow your own medlars. The common Medlar, Mespilus germanica is an easy tree to grow and makes a pretty, flowering garden specimen. A hardy tree or shrub, a flowering tree and a fruit tree. This is an easy How to grow your own medlars guide with vide
© 2014 Les Trois Chenes
I'd love to hear your comments on medlars and medlar jellies
Mario on October 14, 2018:
I bought a medlar tree for my mother years ago and never heard of making jelly or jam of them. Did not know that they could be consumed before they were bletted. In our Venetian dialect they are “nespoi” a variant of “nespoli”.
Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on January 13, 2014:
Thanks for your comment, agvulpes. Do come back and let me know if you grow medlars in Australia. It would be interesting to know.
Peter from Australia on January 09, 2014:
Up until today I had never heard of the Medlar fruit, thanks for the education and the Jelly looks very tasty.
I will look into whether these Medlar are available here in Austraia ?
(tweeted and shared )
Les Trois Chenes (author) from Videix, Limousin, South West France on January 05, 2014:
Thanks for leaving this comment, aviannovice. I really hope you find those medlars and give it a try.
Deb Hirt from Stillwater, OK on January 05, 2014:
These really do sound good. I think I'd like both sweet and tarter.