Medlar Trees on Stoke Newington’s Streets

by Jamie on June 23, 2010

I was at a Spanish friend’s house a few nights back talking about the mapping project** and the first tree that sprang to her mind was a “Níspero” on Darville Road in Stoke Newington.

We had to look it up but a Níspero is a Medlar tree (Mespilus):

I’d seen the fruits in the shops around town but never knew what it was called. Walking down Leswin road tonight I found another two so clearly that area’s the place to go for street Medlar.

The medlar (related to the apple and quince) is harvested in late October or November and it needs to go through a process known as bletting before eating. Bletting involves letting the fruit ripen so much that it starts to decay and ferment, bringing out the sugars in the fruit.

Wikipedia describes what to do with medlars:

Ripe medlars, for example, are taken from the tree and spread on some type of absorptive material (such as straw, sawdust, or bran) somewhere cool, and allowed to decay for several weeks. In Trees and Shrubs, botanist F. A. Bush wrote about medlars that “if the fruit is wanted it should be left on the tree until late October and stored until it appears in the first stages of decay; then it is ready for eating. More often the fruit is used for making jelly.” Ideally, the fruit should be harvested from the tree immediately following a hard frost, which jump starts the bletting process by breaking down cell walls and speeding decay.

The RHS has a recipe for medlar jelly and in Spain, membrillo, a type of quince jelly is delicious with bread and Manchego cheese so it’ll be interesting to see how this turns out.

**Our first day of mapping is happening this Saturday so if you’re free, come along to Pangea Project from 11 for the first forays around town!**

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