Best medlar jelly recipe

Well made medlar jelly is a true delight. It is beautiful to look at: amber with pink highlights and very glossy.

And medlar jelly is joyous to taste; some say it is like sweet cider infused with cinnamon and a touch of allspice. Whatever your adjectives it is utterly delicious, wondrously fragrant and gives a lift to game and cold meats like no other jelly. Add a spoonful to your gravy, and you will never be without it again.

You can buy medlar jelly in the shops, especially in season, and it is easy to make. So much so that everyone should have a medlar tree – small, well behaved, tolerant of most soil types and producing the best fruit jelly made. Who could ask for more?

This recipe for medlar jelly is a family heirloom and never fails. The quantities shown make about 6 big jam jars full (but have a couple extra ready in case you get a bit more).

Ingredients (for about 6 large jam jars)

  • 3 small, sharp apples or 20-25 crab apples
  • 2.5kg bletted medlars(see below)
  • 600g firm medlars
  • 4 lemons
  • 3 litres water
  • 1.2kg granulated sugar
  • Christmassy option: about 20 cloves added at the beginning, which are removed when you strain.


  1. The bletted medlars should be dark and soft before you start. Clean them by removing any stalks and leaves and chopping them in half. Remove any really obvious rotten bits.
  2. Cut the lemons and apples into quarters (just halve crab apples if you are using those instead). Then put all the fruit into a maslin or large saucepan, such as you would use for jam making.
    (Optional extras to add: Whole cloves, star anise, and a few cardamom pods to add a delightfully herbal complexity to the flavour.)
  3. Pour all the water over the fruit and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer gently for about an hour.
  4. Don’t boil hard, and keep covered so the water doesn’t evaporate.
  5. Every 10-15 minutes squash the fruit with a wooden spoon. Don’t over squash or stir the whole time as your jelly will end up cloudy (the taste is unaffected though).
  6. Pour the whole mess into a jelly bag hung over a large bowl. Bathroom taps are great for the job although we have a hook on a beam in the garage. Just let the juice drip into the bowl.
  7. For the clearest jelly, do not squeeze at all. If you leave the bag there for 12 hours, almost all the juice will have run through by itself anyway. (After the juice has run through, you can put the contents of the bag on the compost heap.)
  8. Measure the juice, which should be clear and a wonderful amber-rose colour, into a suitably sized clean saucepan and boil hard for 6-7 minutes. Then add an equal amount of sugar (which should be about 6 cups or 1.2kg).
  9. Bring back to the boil and stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Boil hard for another 2-3 minutes and test on the back of a spoon for setting.
  10. When it has just begun to set (medlar jelly is best with a soft as opposed to hard consistency) pour or ladle into sterilised, warm jars and seal. Leave to cool.

If you were a bit nervous about your jelly being too hard, and find it still has not set the next morning, you can put it back into a pan and boil for 4-5 minutes then return to the jars.

When cool, medlar jelly should be smooth and soft and have a lovely gleam to it.

A note on pectin: Medlars lose their pectin as they ripen, and pectin is essential to make your jelly set. You could put some hard medlars in the mix to provide it, but adding sharp or crab apples is better in our opinion: Golden Hornet makes golden jelly, while Evereste makes it pink.

Bletting medlars

Bletting essentially means to totally ripen, right up to the point of being overripe. It doesn’t mean rotten or properly overripe, but some people associate the softness of bletted fruit with those later stages of actual decay.

Shop bought medlars are generally unripe and much too hard to be useful, so they need to be bletted and softened first. Remove their leaves and put them on plates. They can touch, but do not heap them up. Put them in a cool, frost free place away from rodents and leave them until they turn deep brown and are really soft, almost squashy. Depending on how hard they were when you started, this can take from 1 week to 4 weeks.

For homegrown medlars, simply leave them on the tree until they are ready. You can pick by hand, or when you have a mature tree and are going to use them immediately, knocking them off with a suitable pole onto a sheet spread below is quicker. They are then ready to cook.

By Ashridge Support

Ashridge Nurseries has been in the business of delivering plants since 1949.


  1. Richard Carson says:

    Medlar jelly is one of my favourite ingredients when cooking with almost any meat. I always make my own and I borrowed this recipe from Frances & Julian years ago. Weird that I go to the web to remind myself and hey presto I see an old friend. If this is not the best medlar jelly recipe I would like to try the one that is. Marvellous.

  2. nikki manroth says:

    Just finished sunday dinner of roast pork and all the bits and my fist medlar jelly

    cant begin to say how good it was


  3. Tom says:

    Fantastic medlar jelly – Cant wait to Pass the above terrific recipe’ s to the Jam makers in the area



  4. Jo Scofield says:

    Having just discovered a medlar tree in my new garden I can’t wait to get jelly making!

  5. Bill says:

    I don’t know why limiting this to “cold meat” savoury uses is some sort of given. I like this as a sweet jelly in its own right.

    It makes a great alternative to marmalade.

    I’ve planted a medlar tree in every house I’ve owned, since the 1970’s. At that time, its only use was as a windbreak around orchards. It’s great to see medlars coming back in popularity.

    I now live in France, where néfliers are quite common but no-one seems to do anything with the fruit. I am campaigning!

    1. Ashridge Nurseries says:

      Hello Bill, when one considers that medlars are so easy to grow and naturally attractive, it is odd isn’t it how they have gone from being a common fruit everyone had access to, to being remarkably unknown today, and seen as something fancy by many who do know of them. We would love to sell more varieties, but the demand is low: people generally only want one or two trees as a novelty, even if they are buying a big orchard, which is a shame because there is quite a bit of diversity among medlars, so lots of potential for an “amateur” to breed something new: maybe that’s the kind of project that might get your French neighbours interested. But the main thing surely has to be to feed them; a mouthful of medlar jelly need speak no words.

  6. Marnie says:

    I’ve made this jelly for the last two years and we just finished the last jar. We have a friend with a tree and they don’t use the fruit. Lucky us! This recipe is wonderful. Last year I took holiday option a step further and used whole cloves, star anise, and a few cardamom pods. Same gorgeous color but a hint of mystery spices in the background. It got rave reviews.

    1. Ashridge Nurseries says:

      Thank you, Marnie, I’ve added those ingredients as optional extras to the recipe.
      Medlar jelly is one of those foods that make people go from “Medlar jelly? What’s that?” to “Where can I get more?” after one bite.

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