Archives for posts with tag: bletting

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to visit Angelina tea house in Paris you may have treated yourself to their world-famous Mont Blanc.  I seem to remember that I settled for watching my friend eat one while soaking up the atmosphere and taking a rest from the over-indulgence of lunch (not to mention breakfast).

A few weeks ago, when I tasted the medlars that have been slowly rotting under my bed, they reminded me a bit of chestnut puree and a little of slightly rotten apples.  I thought they would lend themselves well to a sort of British style Mont Blanc.  A Ben Nevis perhaps.

All the medlars were fully bletted when I opened up the box today.  Some of them had gone a bit too far in that direction, being a bit green around the gills, and I had to discard them.  I peeled the papery skins from the others, squeezed out the dark, slightly floury flesh and removed the seeds.  A little orange zest, orange juice and brown sugar lifed the flavour a little and I added a some water and blitzed the mixture in a mini food processor to make a smooth paste.

I then topped individual vanilla meringues with some lightly whipped cream and the puree and served to my slightly nervous husband who pronounced “I like it.  But I’m not really sure what to make of it”.  I think I agree.

Most importantly I’m really happy to have finally tasted medlars both unadulterated and in a dessert.

It has all been rather quiet on the cooking front as the cold weather seems to have brought all the winter viruses with it.  In need of some fresh air as we recovered at the end of October we decided to go for a walk to pick some vitamin-C rich rosehips to make rosehip syrup.  What with the clocks going back, and our lethargy, it was almost dark by the time we made it to the park.  There was just enough time to pick them and let the kids have a quick go on the swings before heading home for tea.  I made the syrup after the children had gone to bed.  The recipe was easy enough to follow but I think next time I might check the sweetness of the extract before adding the sugar as the end result was rather sweet.  It might also help to pick them a few weeks earlier, before the first frosts.

The syrup looks very pretty sitting in an old cider bottle and we’ve been diluting it with water to make drinks.  The best use by far so far, however, is as a mixer for champagne or prosecco.  The alcohol ofsets the sweetness perfectly giving a delicately flavoured and coloured aperitif.

The other news on the foraging front is that my medlars have begun to blet, in fact some of them are ready to eat.  With a little hesitation (they really do look brown and rotten) I tasted one of them a few days ago.  The texture was similar to chestnut puree and there was a faint whiff of rotting apple about it.  The flavour was similar.  A cross between chestnut puree and baked apple.  I can see why people rave about them as there is a delicateness and uniqueness about the flavour and texture that could be considered appealing, and I can imagine it could be delicious mixed with some cream (which seems to have been the most popular way of eating them in their uncooked state).  I can also see why people find them disgusting, there is no escaping the fact that the process of rotting and fermentation has set in.

As I only have a few I am still undecided about their fate but I know I must act fast as some of them will be genuinely rotten and inedible if I leave it too long.  I can imagine eating them in a medlar mont blanc.  I wonder what the boys will think of it!

I’m really not sure when my obsession with cooking with medlars or even just finding an opportunity to taste them began.  I can’t even remember when I first heard about their existence.  They’re pretty rare these days and, until fairly recently, the only ones trees I had seen in the flesh were at the National Trust’s Winkworth Arboretum.  Hardly the place for scrumping.

Then, a mere six years after moving into my house, I found a small tree in the park behind my house (next to an even smaller fig tree) and put a note in my diary to pick the medlars at some point in October.  I took a walk over there earlier this week and they easily came off the tree so I decided it was time to pick them.  There were only about twenty so I’m not sure I’ll be making any medlar jelly.  But before I even think of cooking or eating them I need to let them rot a little bit.  Yes, really.

The fruit are so hard and bitter that the rotting process, more correctly known as bletting, is needed to soften and sweeten the fruit enough to make them edible and even then they are (apparently) an acquired taste.  I read somewhere that the way to do it is to put them in a cardboard box under the bed in straw or layers of newspaper.  So, that’s where mine are now, lurking on the Sunday Supplement and awaiting their transformation into something wonderful, or at least interesting.

To be continued…