At Eastgate in rural North Norfolk, Jane Steward is reviving the medlar, an old English fruit which was once Britain’s sweet treat. Her trees are alive with colour for much of the year: white and yellow flowers in the summer, green leaves that turn to gold and russet. Grafted onto quince A rootstock, and helped by local honey bees, these are trees with prolific fruit.
Alongside the Nottingham variety of medlars, Jane has established a national culinary collection on her six-acre smallholding. Varieties include Breda , Dutch, Westerveld, Macrocarpa, Royal, Bredase Reus, Flanders Giant, Iranian medlars. Her book on medlars will have over 30 recipes alongside a myriad of information on this forgotten fruit.
Why bother with medlars?
First meeting with a medlar – Looking for information - Norfolk - Recovery – Reviving the medlar – Eastgate Larder and the National Collection orchard
Endangered foods survey
The Story of the Medlar
Origin – Geography
History – Archeobotanical evidence and cultivation - UK
Medlars in N America, Australasia, Europe
Medlars in Literature
Shakespeare – Cervantes - Others
Medlars in the Garden
Botanical information – Japanese loquats and Mespilus germanica – Successful growing – Pests and diseases - Soil pH – Pruning and training – Feeding and watering – Pollination – Recommended cultivars – Recommended growers – Harvesting and bletting
Medlars in the Diet
Sourcing and Storing Medlars
Seasonality - Orchards – Foraging - Freezing
Medlars in the Kitchen - 30 recipes
Table fruit – How to eat – Pairings
Pectin - unbletted and bletted medlars
Sweet cakes and tarts – Puddings and ices – Preserves – Syrups – Jelly and Chutney
Liqueurs – Beer
Orchards to visit
Born and bred in Paddington, Jane and her young family moved to the East End in the mid-1980s, and she had two very distinct careers before Eastgate Larder was born. Using her linguistic background – she is fluent in French and German – Jane worked as an equities broker in the City for almost 17 years. Slowly, Jane began to plot her way out of City life.
By then, Jane had met David, a Suffolk boy from a farming background, and they discussed where they wanted to live. They chose Eastgate, a tiny hamlet near Cawston in Norfolk. There they began the next chapter of their lives, and planted a medlar orchard