Mary's Veggie Garden

January 9, 2012

Medlar Harvest

Filed under: Fruit,Gardening,Medlar — marysveggiegarden @ 12:20 pm
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Medlar fruit in mid-August

The four-year old Medlar tree in the Edible Landscape (EL) provided its first big harvest  November 2001. Yes, we harvested Nov. 9, after several frosts and freezes, and after ‘Snowtober’ an unusual storm that dumped 2′ of snow on the EL 10/29/11. Mid-November was the perfect harvest time, as the cold temperatures provided the rough treatment necessary to eventually soften the fruit.

At harvest time the medlar fruit was still rock hard but it softened up in 3-4 weeks. This process is called ‘bletting’. Once soft, the fruit tastes a bit like spicy apple sauce. Any parts that remain hard or dry taste like dry cardboard.

Each fruit is about 1.5″ across by 1″ deep.  The fruit is actually somewhat concave and a fully formed fruit contains five seeds roughly the size of an apple seed so there isn’t much to the edible part.

Close up of medlar fruit on 11/20/11 - still not soft enough to eat.

Our harvest was probably a couple of pounds. I gave most of the best fruit to others working in the gardens as not one of us had ever eaten a medlar. Unfortunately I was left with the worst fruit for photography.

In the picture to the left, the round plump fruits are the good ones. The ones on the right, somewhat deformed, never softened up. About 1/3 of the harvest was deformed. I’m guessing that problem was either poor pollination (the fruits I checked had only 1-2 seeds) or insect damage. Japanese beetles love this tree and may have damaged fruit forming during July, even though 2011 was not a particularly bad year for Japanese beetles in the EL.

Peeled medlar and seeds from a second fruit.

What is inside of a medlar? I peeled this fruit from the stem end. The seeds are in the opposite end. The two seeds are from another fruit. As you can see (click to enlarge the picture), the fruit fibers cling to the seed. This particular medlar was dry and not worth eating. Sorry, I don’t have a picture of a good fruit: I’d already eaten mine.

For better pictures, a recipe, and a fascinating essay on medlars in literature see The Art and Mystery of Food.

What does a medlar tree look like?

The medlar is  a smallish tree. The tree in the EL is probably at or near its mature size. All these pictures are the variety ‘Breda Giant’. The tree is planted about 20′ from the south wall of the building. The brick absorbs a lot of sun so this is a very warm location.

We’ve also noticed that the tree has been growing away from the building. This is obvious if you enlarge the August 2011 photo: the slope of the trunk is visible as a diagonal in the lower right corner. The October snow storm bent the medlar tree nearly to the ground. Harvest was easy, but we had to stake up the tree afterwards.

May 2008 Medlar in its nursery pot.

May 2009

May 2010

August 2011


  1. Mary, Only one of my medlar softened. Tasted it, but sorry, did not like it at all. The others did not softened.

    Comment by Norma Chang — January 9, 2012 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

    • They ripened over 3 weeks or so. Did you wait a bit longer for the others? But it doesn’t really matter, since you didn’t like them.
      I didn’t like the first one I tried. But then I discovered the flavor improved the longer I waited and the softer the medlar got.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — January 9, 2012 @ 8:03 pm | Reply

  2. Never heard of this tree or the fruit! Has me curious to learn more about it.

    Comment by kitsapFG — January 9, 2012 @ 9:57 pm | Reply

  3. I’ve never heard of these before, but they sound yummy.


    Comment by Lynn's Urban Garden Diary — January 13, 2012 @ 9:56 pm | Reply

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