First, take two sawhorses…

Having noticed a medlar tree in our local park, we waited until the end of October and picked enough fruit to give medlar jelly a try. Medlars are rather an ‘old-style’ fruit, not seen that often in shops. Once you have picked them, you have to lay them down to ‘blet’, (which pretty much means to rot) until they have softened and browned. Part of the recipe requires straining the boiled fruit into a bowl, which you then boil up again, adding sugar for the final set.
The appearance of the fruit meant it was often known as ‘dog’s backside’, or similar names.

The tenth-century Saxon grammarian Aelfric translated the Latin mespilus as “openaers,” and that rude Old English name was still in use in Chaucer’s day:

But if I fare as dooth an open-ers
That ilke fruit is ever lenger the wers
Til it be roten in mullock or in straw
We olde men, I drede, so fare we:
Til we be roten, kan we nat be rype;

Unless I fare as does the fruit of the medlar
That same fruit continually grows worse
Until it is rotten in rubbish or in straw.
We old men, I fear, fare like that:
Until we are rotten, we can not be ripe.

From The Reeve’s Prologue, ll. 3872–3875. (Interlinear translation by L. D. Benson.)

Back in the day, they used to use an upturned stool and hang the jelly bag inside. I thought I would use my clamps and sawhorses instead, which worked a treat.

5 replies on “First, take two sawhorses…”

think you need to go on one of the tv cook shows Gary!!!
looks like a lot of work, how many books did you have to read lol
so final verdict was it worth the strain (joke there somewhere)

will have to forward my address if you need judging haha

well done keep up the blogs

Couldn’t get it to set! Made seven jars of syrup. Will have to chuck it a try again this weekend.

H Gary,

Maybe there’s no need to chuck the batch. – here are a few recipes that all suggest using apples to help the juice set to a jelly. I guess you could try re-boiling the syrup with some apples, strain again and then re-bottle.

Hope this helps and you’re able to salvage the batch.

All the best – Richard

Thanks Richard. Yes, Nigel Slater was my downfall actually! Don’t know what went wrong, and have tried adding ‘Certo’ pectin juice and also making my own pectin from apples/lemons. Nothing worked, I still have syrup. This batch has to be binned now, as I’ve re-boiled it four times, (which can’t help), but trying again this weekend with the last of the medlars. I’m going to start straight out with jam sugar, rather than standard granulated. This has pectin added, so I’ll put the apples into and (hopefully) will get a result. :-/

I love them! to get them ripe put them in the freezer. Medlar tree wood is still used in the Basque country were I live to make the traditional walking and fighting stick “Makhila”

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