Medlars are closely related to apples and can grow up to 20 feet tall. They produce spring flowers, followed by fruits in the autumn with beautiful, autumnal foliage. There are smaller growing varieties that may be more suitable to your plot or garden.
Medlar trees can be planted as dormant bareroot trees during autumn to early spring. Medlars like well-drained soil in a sunny or partially shaded position. Try to choose a sheltered spot to avoid frosts and winds. Use a stake for support.
Water in well; you can soak your root ball in water before planting too. Water regularly until the Medlar tree becomes established. Mulch around the base to retain moisture and supress the weeds.
Prune established trees during winter and for young trees; prune and train as you would apple and pear trees for the growth and shape desired in the long-term. During the winter, damaged or dead wood can be removed, branches can be trimmed and the canopy of the tree opened up.
Medlars are harvested during autumn, after the first frosts but are rarely fully ripened at this time. They will be inedible and bitter. Medlars will be ready for picking if they come easily away from their stalk and will require further ripening for a period once you have taken them home.
Store the unripe Medlars, laid out in a single layer with the stalk facing upwards. Store them in a cool place, indoors like a garage or shed. After 2-3 weeks, the Medlars will look brown, shrivelled and like they are rotting, however this is ripening and they will become sweet and juicy. The skin is not edible and the seeds should be removed. The flesh is the edible part that is aromatic and succulent. Medlars can be used once they reach this stage or, they can be frozen.
Medlars were traditionally used to make jellies accompanying meat and game but can also be used in desserts or eaten with cheese and port.