Wednesday 8 January 2020


Medlar Jelly

For more information about Medlars check out my blog from November 2018, Medlars

We received a supply of medlars from our usual source and for the second year made some medlar jelly adapting a recipe from Nigel Slater.  Medlars, as explained in my earlier blog do not ripen on the tree and need to be bletted.

Having received our medlars we placed them on a tray and put them in a fairly dark place in the garden shed

unripe medlars

Afte two to three weeks, most had bletted successfully.  A couple had shown signs of mould and these were discarded.  There were also a few which had not completed the process but to make the jelly a few unripe medlars are helpful as they are rich in pectin which aids setting of the jelly. 

successfully bletted

bletted medlars

We also had a surfeit of apples this year and decided to add a few of the sound windfalls to the mix for added pectin.

windfall apples on the allotment

We used the rest of the sound apples and some still on the tree to make apple jelly using my recipe from 2018

Some recipes suggest chopping the medlars but as ours were so ripe I just pulled them in half, squeezed them and placed them in a pan and covered with water, adding the juice of two lemons and the squeezed lemons (peel and pips). I also added a few of the apples (stalks removed), roughly chopped including cores and pips.

bletted medlars being squished for the pan

With the squished medlars, chopped apples and squeezed lemon covered with water I brought the pan gently to the boil.

medlars being brought to the boil

medlar mixture simmering

I left the pan simmering gently for about 40 minutes. As you can see from the pictures, it does not look particularly appetising - and don't be tempted to taste it, otherwise you might just give up on the whole process.  Indeed I had my doubts that this mixture would ever produce a clear and tasty jelly.  During the simmering process, the fruit mixture can be pressed with a potato masher to ensure all the juice is extracted.

The entire contents are then poured into a jelly bag, suspended over a bowl and left overnight (or for 12-24 hours) for the juice to drip through.

At this point you will be relieved to see a clear amber to pinkish liquid dripping through.

Jelly bags and stands are readily available in cookshops and on-line, but if you don't have one a couple of squares of muslin will do either draped over a colander or large sieve or pinned/tied to the legs of an upside down stool or chair (which is what I used to do when I made jellies with my mother in my youth) with a bowl underneath.  Just make sure the muslin is clean and has been sterilised with boiling water.

Do not prod or squeeze the bag!  Its very tempting as you can always extract more juice and it is thick and sticky and will aid the setting BUT it will make the jelly cloudy. Squeezing won't spoil the taste; it will increase the quantity, but you won't have that beautiful clear jelly.

Measure the juice and put in a stainless steel pan and add sugar in the quantity 
750g of sugar for every litre of juice, or a pound to a pint in "old money". Using less sugar will produce a sharper tasting jelly, which I prefer, but reducing too much might make it difficult to get a good set.

Heat gently, stirring all the time until the sugar has dissolved then bring to a rapid boil. Keep a watchful eye as it may suddenly foam up. Take care that it doesn't boil over by lowering the heat..

Boil rapidly until the setting point is reached, probably after 20 minutes - but could be shorter or longer.  The best way to test for setting point is with a thermometer, which should read 220C, but I don't have one (must put it on the Xmas Wish List!), so I rely on the cold plate method.  Drop a little of the jelly on a cold, dry plate and leave in a cool place for a couple of minutes. If it forms a skin which wrinkles when you draw your finger across it then setting point has been reached.  If it doesn't set, boil a little longer and then repeat the test.

When setting point has been reached, remove from heat and skim off any scum that appears on the surface with a metal spoon.

The jelly can now be poured into warm, sterilised jars and the lids screwed on tightly.

You should have a beautifully clear jelly.  

ready for pouring into sterilised jars

The jars should be stored in a cool dark place as the jelly will darken and lose some clarity with age.

the finished product

To prevent this, the best suggestion is eat it as soon as possible and, if you have too much, give it to your friends and neighbours.  You will be very popular!  It is delicious on toast or can be eaten with hard cheeses or meat, especially game (Nigel Slater recommends it with pheasant) but it goes very well with fatty lamb or pork.  You can also add a spoonful to your gravy (or jus!).


John Austin

Hove, December 2019

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