I love you, rotten,
I love to suck you out from your skins
So brown and soft and coming suave,
So morbid, as the Italians say.
I'm thinking of buying some Medlar jam too because I'm curious about it now.
I read this by chance when it came out, and for a long while couldn't figure out whether it was a parody or a real scientific article. The whole story seemed so vastly improbable: a vulgar fruit central to Shakespeare that we've mostly forgotten about today, unable to be eaten until it's been rotted in sawdust for a few months --- pull the other one! Anyway, if the BBC article whets your interest in the medlar, you should definitely check out the full article. It's a gem.
* Non-climacteric fruits will only ripen on the plant. Strawberries are like this. They can turn more red after picking, but it's deceptive. They don't actually get sweeter.
* Most climacteric fruits will ripen either on or off the plant. I think bananas and apples are like this.
* Some climacteric fruits will only ripen after picking. Avocados are like this for sure. You have to wait until it's large enough to pick it (or it will never ripen) and wait a week or two after picking to eat it. Leaving it on the fruit for an extra week or two is no substitute for waiting after picking. There are probably other such fruits.
Took me too many years to discover this with my pear tree in the back yard.
However, I think many people are used to the taste of unripe pear - it's sweet enough, and quite crisp, and some people prefer them that way. As it sits on the counter, though, it becomes softer and sweeter over time.
There are two class of European pears classified by flesh texture: The 'beurre' type and the 'water' type. The beurre are very hard and dry first but then mature to a fine and almost fatty texture that melts in the mouth. Some can store well in cave for several months. The water pear type is juicy and much softer in all stages and is unsuitable to store more than a few weeks in summer.
Aren't ALL words made up?
Now the title is a little bit misleading, they fell out of favor, and not widely available commercially, but definetly not forgotten.
Persimmons are ready between October and December. Agrums (like mandarines, clementines) from January to March.Figs in summer
Basically you can have something to pick all year long, if people can stop replacing trees by concrete
Edit: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26612839 said it all, what I'm talking about are loquats, not medlars, we still call them "néfliers" though
They're planted all over the place, but it doesn't seem that people eat the fruit anymore. Easy to pick your fill when they're ripe. They aren't the best eating, but not half bad.
The seeds make a good liqueur, too.
Loquats have a mild citrus-apricot flavor and a texture close to a somewhat meaty plum or cherry. When immature, they are very tart; when overripe, they are insipid; when just right, they can be great.
Medlar are only eaten when "bletted", which means that they've become browned and spoonably soft. They taste of overripe spiced stewed apple/pear/quince, although no spice has been added. When just right, they are "interesting".
Both trees are relatively similar in shape, but very different also in character. Lets say that Loquat "is a Magnolia" and Medlar "is an oak".
Btw it's "mišpule" in Czech.
That means that some (very tasty) types of persimmon can be astringent or sweet when hard depending on whether they were pollinated, which is nearly impossible to tell just by looking at the fruit. The most well known categories of persimmons, at least in the US -- Fuyu types (PCNA) and Hachiya (PCA) -- are not pollination variant.
Do people do anything with the astringent types? Do they get better if I wait?
People also dry them -- there's a whole process for this (one link among many):
Hatchiya is the standard one in astringent types. 'Rojo brillante' is also very good. Saijo and Chocolate are also very famous but not so easy to find. All named varieties are astringent.
Yes, we do. Both have their own merits, but astringent types have a couple of serious advantages over non astringent, 1) they store much more sugar than the fuju types and 2) are untouched by insects or birds until ripe.
Really versatile fruit and very good if you know how to use it. Astringent types can be treated industrially to became the same as non astringent ones. Kaki is at least three totally different fruits in one.
I occasionally taste them throughout fall and early winter. They seem to go from "deeply unpleasant" to "mildly unpleasant" to "I suppose I could make jam out of these if I added a lot of sugar".
Are you sure? It looks like azgil (ازگیل).
What I learned from following around the ازگیل page is even more interesting. Those pages say it's known as "coonoos" in gilan, and "kenes", "kendes", or "kaandes" in mazandaran. I can't help but hear "quince" in these. Which happens to be in the same family.
They are very tasty, and can be eaten like a mini apple or pear. They taste like a combination between a pear and an apple. I used to have one in my home/garden.
...it is the baby of the rose family. This little tree produces small fruits in brown to rust color.
These fruits are similar to those of the wild rose, but larger in size.
> It's still widely grown in Iran, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Turkey, where it's sold in markets as musmula.
Yup, that's the same word. Thanks, Ottomans.
It's funny but there's long-standing confusion between me and a friend regarding what a "musmulo" (singular) is. I know by that name a small, round, orange-yellow fruit with soft, tangy flesh and large-ish but very smooth stones - known in English as a loquat. I'm from Athens, but my friend who is from Corfu knows two things as musmula: the loquat and the medlar fruit.
I notice also in sister threads that there is some linguistic confusion about medlars and loquats in other places, e.g. two French users discuss whether "néflier" is the loquat or the medlar fruit, in French.
This year I was at my Corfiot friend's house in winter and they have medlar trees in their garden, so I had the opportunity to watch the bletting process in action, as it were. Basically my friend and my friend's dad picked a bunch of medlar fruit and put them in wicker baskets wrapped in newspaper. Then a few weeks later they ate some. To be honest, I didn't try them, because they looked and smelled ... rotten? I guess? My friend ate a few but some had actually gone bad and had to be chucked out. Strange fruit, really.
 All the rest of me is Greek also.
Examples include karpouzi (watermelon, from Turkish karpuz, from either Persian xarbuz, "melon", or Greek karpos, "fruit").
This name is used in many Balkanic countries.
As we grow a lot of historic varieties of vegetables a "Mispel" was not so unusual for us.
Perhaps it's no coincidence that the article doesn't mention Germany at all, it might ruin the "forgotten" hook. (no you can't walk into a German supermarket and walk out with a bag full of Mispels, it's not that un-forgotten)
This is the supplier, basically the "industry giant" amongst the traditional distillers of the region (most others aren't full time occupations I think):
The whole channel is fascinating. Probably my favorite niche YouTube channel. I had no idea just how many edible fruits are out there and how strange many of them are. Makes me want to quit my job and travel around the world finding thousands of weird fruits to eat.
Anyway, it's a great little fruit, makes superb jelly and cheese (ie jelly with pulp, like a very thick jam). Somewhere between plum and date in flavour, perhaps.
I have a jar of my father's medlar cheese in the fridge, might go and pop a bit on some cheese ...
If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.
Now will he sit under a medlar tree
And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit
As maids call medlars when they laugh alone.—
O Romeo, that she were! Oh, that she were
An open arse, and thou a poperin pear.
The rest of my medieval foods bucket list includes purslane and sorrel. It looks like I'll have to grow both of them from seeds as I have no hope of buying them from a store anytime soon.
Quince jam and quince juice were great.
In this case there are good reasons to not consume it. Very similar to poisonous species for the untrained eye.
Quite tasty. I haven't grown it for a few years, but it's on my seed list now. Thanks for the reminder!
"Now when you pick a pawpaw / or a prickly pear / and if you prick a raw paw / well then next time, beware! Don't pick a prickly pear by the paw / when you pick a pear, try to use the claw. But you don't need to use the paw / when you pick a pear from a big pawpaw. Have I given you a clue?"
This may have placed me under the erroneous impression it was a tropical fruit.
1. Asimina (North American pawpaw)
2. Vasconcellea pubescens (Mountain pawpaw, South America)
3. Carica papaya (Papaya, Africa and Asia)
Outside of North America, "pawpaw" usually means what Americans call papaya -- and in some countries (like New Zealand) both "papaya" and "pawpaw" are used to refer to different varieties of what Americans call papayas.
There are some low annonacin varieties: Sunflower, Wabash, Potomac, Zimmerman, and Wells.
So I did a search and it found two sets of photos:
1. the recent ones (presumably recognised directly from the fruit which are in close up, as there's no other indication of what they are) and
2. an earlier set I had forgotten about from six years ago in South Africa - it's hard to tell with that whether it recognised the whole tree (the fruit themselves are not that obvious) or it has read the tiny hand written label on the ground which says "medlar" (sideways for bonus points!)
They can make a whole series of articles, as they "discover" damsons, greengage, quince, mulberries, gooseberries, etc.
(Between my parents, grandparents, and places like the car park at the back of my mum's office, we picked all of these in England.)
There are plenty of results on British websites for medlar trees (for gardeners) and recipes for the fruit.
I thought this would have been a prime contributor to its vulgar name!
There's all sorts of neat things in the same tribe as apples ("Maleae"); one of my favourites is the Amelanchier genus... Known as Saskatoons, Juneberries, Service berries, Shadbush, depending on where you are and which species you're looking at (though they're all very similar in flavour.) Make the best pie.
EDIT: this breakdown process described for medlars is also similar to some varieties of pears, which aren't really ripe "off the tree" but require chilling hours and then re-warming in order for the sugars to transform into something more edible.
There was once a beautiful medlar at the end of the driveway to a very popular farm shop in Brentwood. I used to ask permission to gather fruits, because no one in the shop knew what it was. One year I came there, and the tree was gone - cut down. Really sad.
Medlars make amazing jam!
Mountain ash is a popular landscaping tree here. Birds (particularly waxwings) flock to them in winter when there's little else to eat (and presumably when the fruit has become less bitter, thanks to bletting).
A humorous research paper from 1989 gathered together some classic put-downs, including "At best, it is only one degree better than a rotten apple" – from a 19th Century gardening book – and "the medlar is not… worth a turd until it's ripe, and then it tastes like shit" – reportedly the opinion of an anonymous medieval author.
Did you know… black sapotes are of the same family of persimmons? If you focus, you’ll notice that they taste very similar.
Is an american cousin, Persimmons are Diospyros kaki and Black sapotes are Diospyros nigra, so technically is a black persimmon. In US there are other obscure native persimmons also like Diospyros texana
Straight off the tree they are hard and barely edible.
Pick them from the tree and wait a week and they become soft and juicy.
Never realised they went out of fashion elsewhere.