Tag Archives: medlars

Thank You! and Go Me!

Go Me! says I. Go where? says Me. Who knows, we smile, because who does? I may not know where I am taking myself, but I do know where I am (most of the time), and where I’ve been.

Where I am, is here, writing my 243rd post. This is where I was one year and one day ago, publishing my very first post about Gallivanting and Roses.

What lies ahead?

What lies ahead? Beverley Park 2012

I have been on a grand journey, and still am on it. Yesterday, 28 October, was my first blog birthday.  Will there be many more? Again, who knows?

But, again, what I do know is that  I am here, on the unbirthday of my blog birthday,  inviting you to share my enjoyment in this day, in this moment.

Draw near and enjoy my  easy-care flowers, for all seasons, in a copper vase which has great sentimental value for me. It is one of two that belonged to my paternal grandmother and dates, I think, from the 1920s.

Silk and Copper

Silk and Copper

If you look very closely, you may find that I have cared so easily for my flowers that spiders have settled in and spun their way through the arrangement  🙂

You may also see little ribbons and little pictures like this…….

They are not new-fangled floral ornaments but bookmarks that I make using photos from some   of my favourite   posts.

As most of you, my blog readers, are also avid readers of ‘real’ books, I would love to thank you for being  with me today by offering you the gift of one of my bookmarks. They are very simple and ordinary bookmarks, but if you would like to have this tangible memento of our journey together, you are welcome to email me, with your details, at kaahend@gmail.com. Tell me which bookmark you would like and I will do my best to send it your way as soon as I can.

Go Me and THANK YOU ALL for helping me to get to my first blog birthday.

© silkannthreades

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What did I do with the medlars?

So, what did I do with the medlars? In my previous post on medlars, I left you with a hint of my intentions. Here is the hint, again, in this photo. Time for the next stepHere’s another hint; it involves a little time, plus pears, medlars, sugar, lemon, water, plate, spoon, pot, stove top, bowls, frying pan, a strainer, and absolutely no autumn leaves. Their purpose in the photo was decorative only.  So, yes, you guessed it. I made medlar pear jelly. Actually, more pear than medlar because I had 3 pears to brew, and only 2 medlars.

I chopped and chunked the fruit, skin and all; placed it in a small pot with a quarter of a lemon, skin and all; barely covered the fruit with water and, then, had a merry boil-up, till the fruit was soft. Next the contents of the pot were sieved through a cheese cloth . More shoved than sieved because I am not patient with jelly making and rarely do the proper thing, which is to let the fruit liquid seep very, very slowly through the cheese cloth into a container.

The end result was a lovely, pale amber extraction which made me think of mead, or honey wine. It didn’t taste like mead;  it did taste like soft, sweet pear juice, flavoured with a drop of medlar  essence and a squeeze of lemon.

The next stage was to take one cup of the juice, a quarter cup of lemon juice and one and a quarter cups of sugar and boil the mixture until it jellied ie until a small splodge of it set freely on a cold plate. I like to make jelly, or jam, in small quantities and in a small frying pan, as I find that I get a quicker set that way.  And here is the result; three small bowls of golden jelly, ever so firm and smooth and subtlely  pear-ish, spiced with the lightest touch of medlar. Would you like some? It is scrumptious on toast.

Don’t mind if I do! Jelly with Mead would be nice, thank you.

Footnote: Mead, like the medlar, has a long history. Mead has ancient origins throughout Africa, Asia and Europe and, most likely, pre-dates culitvation of the soil. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mead  Cats have  an ancient history too 🙂

© silkannthreades

Medlars; the moment of truth?

The medlars had begun their bletting; remember this?Bletting MedlarsThe two medlars on the left of the photo appeared to be fully bletted (rotted), so I cut one of them in half and discovered this;Are you ready?Gulp……am I really going to eat this?…. why, yes, but not in one gulp!  I take my most elegant teaspoon (so I can convince myself I am tasting something gorgeous and unrotten) and scrape out a small amount of the soft, thick, apple sauce textured flesh. I  gingerly place the morsel  in my mouth……to search for  the moment of  truth; to understand the essence of medlar.    Mmmmmm……Mmmmmm?  Doesn’t smell bad; doesn’t smell anything. Doesn’t taste bad, but how does it taste?  Like a floury, very ripe crab apple, minus any of the sharpness of apple, and steeped with the spices of mulled wine?  Possibly……but there’s another taste that is tickling my tongue; a taste that has been lost with time. Another delicate scrape licked from the spoon and, suddenly, my senses are whiplashed back through five decades, to a place and time about as far removed from my present placing as one can get.  I am in the warm tropics, in the tiny town of my birth. I am with my friend Julie, under the tamarind tree by her garden gate. It is tamarind season and we are sampling the tamarinds. We open the dry pods and suck on the sour, sticky, date-brown pulp, delighting in its acidity. We delight, too, in spitting the big seeds once we have sucked all the flesh from them.  We feel free, and adventurous, gathering sustenance from the ‘wild’. Sometimes, we find a tamarind that is riper than the others. It has a faint mustiness, an otherness to it; not unpleasant, not sweet, not sour, but we toss it aside because it is the sour fruit we crave.

So, a medlar tastes like a tamarind? In a way, yes. A little bit; like one of the musty, over ripe tamarinds, devoid of any hint of sourness.  That is where my taste bud inventory took me; back to the tamarind tree. But, whether or not  it is more like a floury crab apple or a musty tamarind, or a combination of both, it is assuredly an ancient flavour; in the same way as the flavours of the crab apple and the tamarind belong to the ancient realms.  The medlar’s taste belongs to the ages, and, like the best of fine whisky, or aged cheese, needs to be savoured gently to appreciate its uniqueness. That I can vouch for.

Now that I have thoroughly confused you about the flavour of medlars, here’s a photo with a hint of what I am going to do with them next………

Time for the next stepTree notes: If you would like to know more about the tamarind tree, this link to Kew Gardens provides excellent information  http://www.kew.org/plants-fungi/Tamarindus-indica.htm

© silkannthreades

The Bletting has Begun

Remember the medlars?  A few days ago they looked like this: strange, mostly firm, ugly fruit resembling a cross between an apple and an enormous rosehip.

Medlar, medlar

Medlar, medlar

I wrapped the fruit in brown paper and left it in the cool garage to blett (decompose, rot). Yesterday, I discovered that two of the medlars were  thoroughly bletted and another two were starting to blett. Today, I attempted to photograph the bletting process but with limited success.Time passes If you look closely and carefully, you may be able to see that the fruit on the left is bletted (looking shriveled and dark in colour), and so is the second fruit from the left. The third medlar is starting to blett (on its far surface) and the last medlar (that is the one to the right of the photo) is still unbletted.

Now, isn’t that a lot of blither blather about bletting and bletted and not bletted and unbletting?

For this post, which is as much about  the passage of time as decomposing medlars, I  unwrapped my  grandmother’s aged clock. Since the first big earthquake in 2010, which it miraculously survived, the clock has been tucked away amongst protective clothing in my dresser drawer. Today, I turned the key,  and set the clock  to tick- tick, tick- tick, tick- tick, happily, happily, for the first time in over 2 years. I am enjoying its company again, but I will probably put it away, come evening time.  It is nearly a hundred years old and needs rest and care as much as anyone else of that vintage. It is too fragile now to be left exposed to the rigours of daily life on a table top.

© silkannthreades

Medlar, medlar, how does your bletting go?

Until a few days ago, this was as close as I had ever been to a medlar, outside of literature and history;

then, as I mentioned in my previous post, my friend brought me some medlars which she had bought on Mother’s Day, at a country store, in a small farming community about 30 minutes south of our city.  Medlars are a fruit  with an ancient history in Europe but are not widely grown, or known, in my part of the world. I was delighted to see them in the flesh for the first time. They look rather different from the stylised ones on my wallpaper.

To me, the medlars look like a cross between a small russet coloured apple and a gigantic rosehip. The fruit I have is  hard and, in this state, it is inedible. Medlars must be left to blett before they can be eaten or cooked. Blett is a polite way to say decompose which is a polite way to say rot. Blett comes from the French world blettir which means to become over-ripe, or so the dictionary tells me.

So, here is my basket of medlars, beginning their bletting journey; hopefully!

I don’t know how long it will take.   I am keeping them covered in a paper bag and stored in the coolest part of my house, which is the garage. Supposedly, this will encourage their bletting. And when they have bletted, or if they blett, I will decide what to do next.  Maybe medlar jelly, or cheese, or pie, or maybe skinned and straight into my mouth….or the compost! Who knows if I will like rotten fruit 🙂

© silkannthreades

Parting is such sweet sorrow…….

Here, in Christchurch, it is the day after Mother’s Day. And, in a way, I am glad it is the day after. Mother’s Day is always a  bittersweet day for me and, I would say, for one reason or another, it is for most mothers.

This morning, a friend, and fellow mother, came by to bring me some medlars and a jar of feijoa and vanilla jam.  I had provided her with the feijoas (pineapple guavas) from my tree and she had produced her culinary wand and turned them into an utterly delicious spread for my toast and bread, scone and bun (penny one).

Over the garden gate, we discussed our Mother’s Day celebrations. My friend started her Mother’s Day with a farewell to her son at the airport. He is off to work in Australia, our big neighbouring country across the Ditch, aka the Tasman Sea. Her Day was bittersweet. She was proud to have a son making his own way in the world, but sad to see him moving abroad.

This is how it is for many of us in New Zealand. Our generation, generations before and those of today, at some time or another, have moved, and continue to move, away from New Zealand. Some call it their OE (overseas experience), some just go. Some return and some don’t.   I think, if one lives on an island nation, always facing the sea, it is inevitable, that many  of us will, eventually,  feel the pull to see what lies over the horizon; to set upon a journey. Recent estimates of the New Zealand diaspora suggest that about 650,000 of us live outside New Zealand, with about half a million of that number living in Australia.  Amongst my friends and relations and acquaintances, there is scarcely a single one that is  without at least one family member living away from New Zealand.  Our families are, as they were from the very beginning of human settlement in New Zealand, often incomplete; separated by oceans and our vast geographic distance from much of the rest of the world. In my own case, my daughter, my parents and my siblings all live in Australia. And, for years, I lived away from New Zealand too.

On Mother’s Day, I spent some of the day, delighting in the Birth Notices in our local paper. Not something I usually do, but I had a little time to twiddle my thumbs, and the notices caught my eye whilst I was twiddling. They caught my eye mostly because of the names; Sophie, Max, Rose, Lily, Emily, Grace ; some of the short, sweet names reminiscent of names of my grandparents’  and great grandparents’ generations.  As I read the names,  I thought of all these new little ones enjoying their first ever Mother’s Day with their own special Mum. And I wondered, also, where they will all be on Mother’s Day a few decades hence; metaphorically still in their mother’s embrace but, in reality, they may well be far from home. But that is how life goes, with its comings and  goings, its arrivals and departures, interspersed with jam and friends and beauty and randomness. Thus it ever was in families and ever will be. At least in this corner of the world. And maybe in yours too.

‘Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow’  Romeo and Juliet ; this is entirely out of context but the words seem right for my post today.

© silkannthreades