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Author Jane Steward grows medlar trees, and makes medlar jelly each year. Her first medlar tree was a wedding present, and she planted it where there was once a fruit farm of 2,000 apple and pear trees. She and her husband revived the old fruit farm in the 21st century, replacing apples and pears with many medlar trees. She has won awards for her medlar jelly which she sells under the Eastgate Larder name. Jane curates the UK’s National Collection of medlar trees which she grows in Norfolk.
Medlars orginally came from the Caucasus region, Turkey, Georgia and the Balkans. They were well known by the Romans who probably brought them to England, and were growing in England by the Middle Ages; seeds have been found in Hampshire and other places.
After the first world war, the popularity of medlar fruit waned, and it became almost forgotten. Jane Steward has been a huge force in the revival of this ancient fruit. Now, medlar jelly, medlar cheese, syrups and chutneys are available, and best of all, if you find the fruit at a Turkish food shop, you can wait until they ripen, and make your own with the recipes in Jane’s book.
‘This beautifully written hymn to the most under-appreciated fruit, this book covers everything from the medlar’s history to the inventive, delicious recipes that will have you making the most of its unique and special flavour‘ Mark Diacono, grower and author.