Medlars

medlar2The medlar is a curious fruit. They start appearing in the market in November. They are squishy and unappetising-looking but you can’t eat them until they’ve gone very soft (and in fact are just on the turn between ripeness and decay). If you leave them too long, they start to fizz and their flesh goes sour. Eaten at just the right time and they have an amazingly rich depth of taste, like any fruit that has stored and distilled all the goodness of summer (a rosehip, for example, or a raisin). For this reason, they go extremely well with sweet Tokaj wine.

They are fiddly to eat. I’ve tried a number of methods but always come back to the simplest: in the fingers, no cutlery. Just pinch off the peaked tip at the bottom of the fruit and gently squeeze until the thin skin splits. Then squeeze the flesh, pips and all, into your mouth. There are four pips. Suck them clean and spit them out. It’s messy but delicious. And medlars are good for you. They are packed with vitamins and help with all kinds of metabolic functions such as absorbing iron and processing carbohydrate. Excellent winter fare.

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