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Making medlar cheese ~ by Angus

Making medlar cheese

Medlars are a much under-appreciated fruit.  We recently picked a large bag of medlars which would otherwise have gone to waste and decided to make medlar cheese.  The first thing, to make them edible, is it to leave them to go soft and squishy - the medlars will change from a yellowy colour to a dark brown - this is called bletting and is essential to any medlar processing.

In our case this bletting had been largely completed while the fruit was still on the tree after the frost had got to them but we kept them a few days beyond that in the warmth of the kitchen in a well-ventilated corner.

Medlar mashing and mixing and making mushy
To get the flesh out we squeezed them to break the skin and then scooped out the insides with a spoon.  This is then put through a sieve which eliminates the five seeds and the skin from each fruit.  We also squeezed the residual skins to get the last of the flesh out - it's messy and gunky but satisfying once you have a sieved pile of medlar pulp. You then weigh the pulp and put it into a large heavy-bottomed pan with an exactly equivalent amount of granulated sugar and heat over a low heat stirring well until the sugar is dissolved.

Turning up the heat - but careful

You can then turn up the heat and continue stirring until it becomes really thick: during this process it will "plop" and gurgle.   Be careful not to let the medlar mixture splash on your face or hands as it is very hot. You need to keep at this until the mixture is really, really thick so that it won't even drip off the wooden spoon you are stirring with.

Moulds for medlar cheese
You can use a cup cake tin or a loaf-shaped tin.  You should pour the hot mixture into the lightly greased tin (we also put a layer of teflon in ours to protect the tin). Once the medlar cheese has cooled, which may take a few hours (usually overnight, while your wrists recover and you dream of a moon made of medlar cheese), the loaf will become hard and the next morning it can be sliced into chunks which are delicious.

This makes an ideal present and is a novelty for most people who have often gone through much of their life without ever experiencing Medlar cheese.  It is almost impossible to buy it commercially so you will be eating or giving away a delicacy which is unavailable in shops.

Plant more Medlars!

Posted in: Practical Guides ~ On: 5 January, 2011

33 comments so far

Matt King
14 January, 2011

What a great idea – thanks for talking this through and the lovely photos. We will definitely be planting medlars in our meadow, which we hope to transform over a number of years into a Forest Garden.

25 April, 2011

This is fantastic. We just have to get some Medlar.

Old Varieties
21 May, 2011

I had not heard of the Medlar until I read your article – so I looked for more information. I had not realised how old the fruit wa. Anyone else want to know more should take a look at this article over on a website called Old Varieties – http://bit.ly/mECydw

22 June, 2011

I’ve just found a source of medlars and have finally got them to blet – they need to be kept in straw to keep the moisture in, otherwise they dessicate. I’m in the process of making jelly, but I’d like to try the cheese with next year’s crop. I’ve saved seeds – does anyone know how to plant them?

22 June, 2011

You could ask the RHS – happened to notice on a search of their site the following “Medlars are grafted or budded onto quince rootstocks or could be grown from seed. Fruit nurseries will often supply rootstocks and carry out the grafting or budding for you if you have suitable scion material. You can try grafting yourself, but can be tricky and normally takes years of practice.”

27 September, 2011

Are these a suitable plant for Temperate Southern climate, or do they require a solid (frosty/snowy) Winter to set fruit or germinate seeds? We live in Australia, so “Medlars” are relatively unknown.

18 November, 2011

How long does the medlar cheese keep?

John (Paris, France)
4 December, 2011

This is the clearest explanation that I have found. Thank you.
Based on my research, there seem to be two approaches to what to do with that sieve: this recipe, which I followed, calls for straining uncooked medlar, whereas I find others which call for cooking them in a bain-marie before passing the cooked mixture through the sieve. I opted for the one that strains before cooking, both to avoid having to strain hot material and to get the messy part over with early in the process.
Can the “scraps” from making cheese (the skins, gritty pulp, etc) be boiled up to make a small batch of jelly? If I’ve made the recipe which has not already cooked them, I assume that these scraps still contain their medlar scents (which is perhaps an argument for the recipe that cooks everything before straining).
If anyone has experience with the above, I would much enjoy hearing it.

Vivien Cruickshank
26 June, 2012

I have been trying to find out how many years you have to wait for the fruit after planting it.
So far I have had no success. Can anyone help?
I suspect the answer will be not in my lifetime, but I’m hoping not.

John (Paris, France)
26 June, 2012

I bought a tree mail-order in France, and I don’t recall having to wait more than a year for the fruit. Likely my tree would be a medlar grafted on to another rootstock. If your tree is grown from seed, perhaps it could take longer.
To answer Heather: the unused part of medlar cheese I made last December is still fine, and its texture has not degraded 6 months later (stored in the fridge).

Let the bletting begin | Comfortably Hungry…
27 November, 2012

[…] medlar tree and for several years I have been gathering the fruit. At first I made medlar jelly and medlar cheese (both of which are very good). Then I came across a medlar vinegar made by Stratta which is […]

Ligia (Romania)
15 December, 2012

I have many medlar trees at home !
Medlars are delicious and very healthy, but i had no idea about this recipe !
I will try it !

Vanda Jackson
14 May, 2013

I love my medlar beautiful at all stages from pure white spring flowers to glorious autumn leaf colours.. It fruited from the first season I planted it, the crops getting larger each year. I live in Hobart and it does very well here and also in Victoria. It survived the summer drought but my son with a better water supply used it and his fruit are twice the size of mine and the crop embarrassingly large. We also find that medlars have a tendency to tilt over but then produce vertical shoots, or are quite happy to be pushed upright and staked.

Diana Williamson
3 November, 2013

Just found this site – We are still eating some medlar cheese which I made two years ago and has been kept in the fridge – delicious with hard goat’s milk cheese!

Diana Williamson
3 November, 2013

The cheese is even better with spices added to it!

Anne Dixon
10 November, 2013

I have pounds and pounds of medlars this year from 2 6 year old trees. I have made jelly before and it is delicious with venison, either as an accompaniment, brushed on the meat (prior to cooking) or added to the juices with red wine to make a fantastic ‘jus’ (gravy?).

The medlar cheese sounds great too (I’ve made membrillo, or quince paste / cheese and that goes brilliantly with cheese).

Diana, which spices did you use?

19 November, 2013

Traditionally medlars are propagated by grafting onto a hawthorn rootstock, as the plants belong to the same family. You can see the similarity if you think about it. I find medlars blets best in a cool dry atmosphere. I have a set of medlar pictures on my Flickr account site.

Bob Waterfall
30 November, 2013

I make Medlar jelly and cheese every year. I first let them get well bletted them sqish them in my hands, add water and bring to boil. I then simmer them for a couple of hours and then filter them through a very fine material. I bottle the huice ready to make the jelly later (juice kept in the freezer). Next job is to pass the ‘mud’ through a sieve and make the ‘cheese’ as described by John from Paris. I also make Quince (French ‘Coing’) jelly and cheese (Spanish ‘Membrillo’) which goes well with Manchego cheese.
Bob from Brittany

Sally White
6 December, 2013

I will go with Bob’s idea, I have made the jelly, and am in process of making the medlar cheese. Last night squeezed the ‘mud’ through a sieve, so here we go, I was looking to see how much sugar, now I know, fingers crossed. My medlar tree is at least 10 years but prior to this I have not made anything with them. The medlars are roughly 2-3″ in diameter now.

Sally White
22 January, 2014

Hi, I have made the medlar cheese, it is now, January. The trays of cheese are still sitting here. How do I dry the sweets out, or preserve them. Tried dusting with caster sugar, shall I wrap them in greeseproof paper?? Any ideas.??

A Medlar Tree | tangent ramblings
21 August, 2014

[…] This fruit is eaten after it is ‘bletted’ which is an almost rotten stage. Apparently, at this point they taste like a ‘really good apple butter‘ – but I have no idea because I’ve never had access to one of these fruit to try. I’ve also read medlar’s are good with port at the end of a meal, highly suitable for jam making with their high pectin content and can be made medlar cheese. […]

Chris Brewchorne
9 September, 2014

Ahah! Another cheesy article which actually does have a link to woodland.

Pam Dawson
17 September, 2014

Clearest description so far, thank you. I only planted my medlar tree a couple of years ago and it’s loaded this year and fruited the first year so you don’t have to wait long. There is a fine difference between the completion of bletting and the fruit going mouldy! Can you get away with first boiling and straining to get medlar jelly and then sieving remains to make medlar cheese, as is the case with quince jelly and quince cheese?

Pamela Pither
14 November, 2014

Make your own Medlar Jelly from our fresh fruit NO FERTILISERS USED http://tinyurl.com/l49p8g7 They going fast don’t miss out. + Free recipes

Jan Hawkins
21 September, 2015

I planted my Medlar tree twelve years ago, having found it as a young sapling in my local garden centre ‘Sick Bay’ here in Somerset. The tree flourished with no special treatment and has been fruiting for 8-9 years now.
We cut back the tree annually as it is in danger of taking over my small garden! however it fruits heavily whatever I do to it.
My neighbour uses the fruit every autumn to make both Medlar jelly & Medlar cheese, both very good. This year I plan to try myself to make a type of ‘Medlar Delight’ by adding rosewater and hazelnuts to the cheese recipe, then dusting with icing sugar.
Christmas gift idea ?

Mark Terry
8 October, 2015

My Medlar is now 5 years old but fruited after the first year. One thing I would say is not to get too hung up on recipes, adding some twists of your own can make for some very good creations. I walked down the garden last year, grabbed a small pan of Victoria plums threw in a few lord Lambourne apples topped up with a greater proportion of Medlars. Boiled it all, added a bag of jam sugar, simmered it for a while, tested it on a cool plate for set, then sieved it through a metal sieve into heated jam jars. Result, the most wonderful clear pink scented jelly which lasted about 3 months.

Brenda Henderson
3 November, 2015

I’m still waiting to get a medlar grafted onto my hawthorn stock. This year we had a canicule, totally unsuitable for grafting anything as temperatures climbed into the thirties and forties for three months. Grafting apparently produces better and larger fruit than growing from seed. Have just found a ‘wild’ medlar tree at just the right time with the fruits bletting but not mouldy – yummy. Picked around 5 kgs and there were still loads left.

21 December, 2015

A good friend of mine gave me some well-bletted medlars yesterday. I reserved some seeds from the raw and softest fruits, and placed them in some lukewarm water. I understand from some research that they need a good couple of winters to scarify and sprout, so I shall plant them in a pot with some soil mixed with sand, and leave them, well-labelled, in an exposed part of my garden, and see what happens. In true “Here’s one I prepared earlier” fashion, though, I am also ordering a small tree from a local nursery….
As for the gifted medlars, I squished them, placed them in a pan and covered them with about an 1″ of cold water, brought them to a boil, and simmered them for about 45 minutes, until super-smushy. (That’s a culinary technical term….) This morning, I passed them through a sieve, in batches, until I just had the skin and seeds left. I transferred the debris to a bowl, and kept sieving until the whole batch was done.
In true ‘waste-not-want-not’ fashion, I poured some cold water into the bowl of discarded skin/seeds, mixed it up, then poured the lot into the sieve for one final work-through which yielded a good half-cup more….
Now, it is quietly poppling and simmering on my stove, and turning the deepest rust-brown, maroon colour in the process…..
Watch this space. And thanks to the above recent contributors for more super creative recipes!

Medieval Medlars: Get to Know and Grow this Unusual Fruit ⋆ North Coast Gardening
9 May, 2016

[…] Its high pectin content lends it to preserves — jam, jelly, or chutney — as well. A curd-like “medlar cheese” is another […]

10 October, 2016

As we have a Medlar tree and always have pounds of medlars, I have tried a variety of recipes in addition to eating the raw bletted medlars (which not everyone likes as it is an acquired taste).

Recipes tried are as follows:

Medlar Jam

Medlar Jelly always get a very firm set

Medlar Fool – scrape out bletted flesh (before it gets too runny), gently cook with a very small amount of water and add rum then when cold mix into whipped cream – this also freezes well in small containers.

Medlar puree makes a very nice pie using a pumpkin pie recipe

Medlar paste – mix with sugar and spices and cook down stirring (as in membrillo but to a stiffer consistency)

Medlar and apple chutney (HFW’s recipe at River Cottage) – keep for at least a year before using. Delicious with cheese – delicious

Medlar mincemeat

Unusual or exotic trees – The Medlar (Mespilus germanica). | Woodlands.co.uk
22 October, 2016

[…] fruits were an important source of vitamin C in the winter months.  They are used in the making of medlar cheese, or medlar jelly or eaten as a […]

23 November, 2017

Bought a small tree from a car boot sale £2.
It fruited first year and is full of fruit now every year.

27 November, 2017

Hi there just made some medlar cheese.
Used just flesh and sugar and heated till sugar melted and changed colour then put in mounds and lof tin… I’d read that it would be stiff enough to slice.. Is this correct. As mine is soft…

Also made some lovely curd cheese followed by gin soaked sloe flesh and crab apple chutney.. As if that wasn’t enough I made eves pud listening to my fav radio station what a lovely way to spend an evening x

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