Wednesday 19 November 2008

Buttering Medlars

bletted medlars
Bletted Medlars showing the formation of the seed capsule inside the fruit.

It seems rather odd to have come back to writing this blog; still feel rather dissociated from it.

Anyway, it's medlar time of year again and in previous years I've made jelly and last year medlar and japanese quince jam. I wanted a change. We love the jelly but there's a limit to how many jars of sweet stuff a small family can consume in a year.

One recipe I've kept in my favourites for some time is this one, Theodore Garrett's Medlar Cheese, recorded by Historic Food. I really wanted to make those divine little moulded shapes but I don't have any moulds which rather inhibits that plan. I did have perfectly bletted medlars so I decided to give it a go and set the paste in tiny dipping sauce bowls and espresso cups.

Bletting (or bringing to a point of rotteness) medlars is pretty easy but you want them to mature without becoming infected with fungal colonies or mildews, so it helps to have them in an airy place during the process so that nothing too noxious can start to grow. I had mine for two weeks in an unglazed earthenware dish on the cool side of the kitchen and it worked beautifully.

I decided to follow the recipe exactly as this was a first for me, I've never actually made fruit cheeses or pastes before. Immediately I got stuck because of a lack of equipment. The fruit is supposed to be softened in a jar heated in a pan of simmering water. I don't have a suitable jar/pan combination. After some thought it seemed possible to substitute for this by using a covered glass casserole in a baking pan of water in the oven (about 150C). This worked well but took over three hours before I felt the fruit was soft enough to sieve.

From my 1.3kg medlars (all I could fit in the pan) I took a yield of 840g hard won sieved medlar flesh. I do hate rubbing things through a sieve and would recommend you use a mouli if you have one.

After adding the sugar (375g sugar to 500g medlar pulp) the mixture is supposed to be stirred over the heat until it leaves the sides of the pan clean. I found the paste so thick already that this happened almost immediately and so I suspect I didn't cook it quite long enough. I filled my little cups but after a while setting they showed no signs of firming up enough to slice which would justify them the title of a fruit 'cheese' so I've decided to call it butter. The bulk of the recipe has been potted in jam jars but the scrapings and leftovers have been spread into a shallow tray and returned to the barely warm oven to dry out for a few hours and make fruit jelly sweets. The flavour is lovely, I don't think anything will be wasted.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Nothing like


a bonfire for a clearout. Four leylandii, two elderberries and the scrap from a sycamore and an ash tree reduced to ash.

The long straight bits of the ash and sycamore have been reserved for green woodworking over the winter break.

Thursday 13 November 2008

The View from Thoreau.

I do not know how to distinguish between our waking life and a dream. Are we not always living the life that we imagine we are?

I am not within the life I imagine and my inspiration is gone. A momentary lapse of reason meant that the blog nearly disappeared entirely, but for the time being I've decided to let it sit and bide its time until I'm ready to try again.

vine leaves

Wednesday 5 November 2008

Gone Away

Blogs may be resumed in the future or never.

Thanks for reading.