Medlars make marvellous chutney

YOU struggle to find a recipe for medlar chutney on the Internet and it’s not hard to see why. The pulp may taste sweet and lovely when you squeeze  it into your mouth but the pips!

Since every fruit contains at least five sizeable pips it’s going to be a faff to sieve them out. And it is!

Making jelly is a cinch, you just turf the fruit in the pot, boil it up and the juice strains through the jelly bag later.

It has crossed my mind to sieve the boiled pulp later for a chutney but I reckoned most of the flavour had gone into those little golden jars of jelly.

But this year I collected so many medlars, about a couple of kilos, that I had a go. And once bletted and, without boiling them first into a solid, sticky mess, I could sieve out the pips without too much of a struggle.

You might find a little powdery blue mould on some of the fruit so either discard or nip off and, at any rate, give them a good rinse.

Mind you, it took about 30 minutes hard work with a metal sieve and large spoon. You’ll find it doesn’t easily fall through but has to be scraped off the underside.

I got an aching wrist but I had about 600 grams of brown, sweet, sticky pulp to play with.

For me, a ripe medlar ( the fruit is only edible when it has rotted or ‘bletted’) is a cross in flavour and texture between a date and fig. I have heard it compared to stewed apples. It’s the pips, which you spit out, which are the nuisance.

But without cooking the fruit up first removing them was not that much to a struggle.

Now dates and figs make very good chutneys and I had high hopes with this. I more or less made up the recipe as I went along, cutting back slightly on the sugar because there is so much in the pulp.

I had

600g medlar pulp
600g apples
One medium onion, chopped finely
700mls malt vinegar
100g sultanas
2 tbs crushed coriander
1 tbs crushed mustard seeds
‘Thumb’ of fresh ginger
2 tbs garam masala
1 top chilli powder

900g sugar (see below)

All but the sugar was boiled up until mushy, adding a little extra vinegar from time to time if the mixture looked too thick (just simmer, don’t  boil fast). Then I added 900g of white granulated sugar, although brown would be even better.

Cook on in the usual way until there is no surface liquid and you can see the bottom of the pan when stirring a spoon. Allow to cool slightly then put into warm, sterilised jars (I boil mine). I had eniugh to fill half a dozen variously sized jars.

I am delighted with the result, worth the extra effort. It’s a sweet, rich, subtly spiced chutney which goes spectacularly well with cheese, especially blue.

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