Whoever said the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, apparently hasn’t visited the streets of Athens in Spring, or they would realize an amazing force of nature is taking place: In the midst of the grey, urban garden of buildings and streets, medlar fruit lean heavy on the branches of their trees, falling to the ground and creating a Monet-like painting of dusty orange colour and round, almost exotic looking jewels.
I have never said this before, however this is the time to take out your hand-woven baskets and roam the streets, collecting this free, wild-spirited, untamed fruit. A very dear friend sweetly pointed their rebellious spirit out to me, urging me to create the most amazing jam. Since this is their season, and it only lasts for a very short while, I immediately took the chance to make my own medlar jam, and, what a rewarding challenge it has been. Sweet and round, the taste of this seasonal jam is beyond description.
You will not believe how royal this simple, street – wise fruit can become, when treated right in the kitchen. Lemon juice retains their tanginess while the apples keep their golden juiciness intact. After I prepared this amazing recipe for the first time, I very soon realized that medlar jam can find its perfect partner in creamy, rich vanilla ice cream. So be prepared and have some in the freezer, beforehand, ready to be submerged in golden sweetness.
Medlar and Apple Jam
1½ kg medlars, washed, peeled and chopped
1 kg sugar
2 green apples, washed, peeled and cored
½ cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cinnamon stick
1. Clean medlars by removing all stalks and leaves. Peel and chop into small pieces, making sure to discard any bits that might seem to be more than a little off (i.e. are obviously rotten). Pour the lemon juice over the medlars and let stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, wash, peel and core the apples.
2. In a heavy and deep sauce pan combine the medlars, apples, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer; for 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to stand overnight, covered with a clean tea cloth.
4. The next day place the mixture on the stove and again bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, until the mixture thickens and becomes jam — halfway through however, while on the way to thickening into jam, add the vanilla and remove and discard the cinnamon stick.
5. When the jam is sufficiently thickened remove from the heat and transfer the jam to clean and sterilized jars. (Note: See page 46 of Sandra Loves, “The Sterilizing of Jars and the Preserving Process” for how to sterilize jars.)