I have grown Royal medlar for about 20 years. I like it.
A few years ago, I bought a scion of "Nottingham" and grafted it into my tree. At first, I only got a couple, so I hardly noticed. This year, my regrafts have really come into fruition. I can't believe how much I like "Nottingham". It is more tangy and flavorful than Royal. I feel like grafting my whole tree over. What are your favorite varieties of medlar?
I don't know if it's my favorite, but I have Breda Giant. When I went to the fruit fair I saw a couple of Medlars which were quite large, Dzevera Garden Gori and Narashenik. One issue is that there is so little meat on a Medlar. They should bred them to be as large as a pomegranate. One issue is that they seem to rot and turn brown, which I presume is not good. Does one put them in the freezer to ripen them?
I haven't tried that yet. With this new variety, I am now excited to see how to extend the harvest. Before, it was good but not great. I have been storing them in buckets to try to keep the squirrels away.
With medlars, you can't eat them until they rot part way (bletting). Like their close relation pears, they aren't good usually when you pick them off the tree.
Anyone do any experiments like that?
Are they supposed to turn brown though? I thought if you freeze them and unfreeze them they become ready, and that the pulp is still white. But I really don't know. As I noted, someone needs to breed them the size of grapefruit though because getting anything to eat is a pain. Think of replacing it with a persimmon or quince. Need a tropical look though.
I like all three of those fruits, and they all have different flavor and nutrition profiles. The quince and the medlar are closely related, but not to the persimmon. My American persimmons start fruiting in September and are done by Nov. 10. The medlars hadn't even started yet. I'm still eating my medlar. Since I put compost tea on my quinces, I'm still able to eat some of the quinces (just barely). I'm very glad I grow all three. I think I'm going to try your idea of freezing next year to see what happens.
Cannot say that I have a favorite because I only have one medlar tree: “Nana” selected by OIKOS nursery. On it I grafted a variety with a French name (that escaped me) from our local scion exchange (Agrarian Sharing Network). The graft bears large fruits (2 in in diameter), and I found them mild and pleasant but I could not eat more than one, just like Red Delicious is too boring as an apple.
The Nana tree is said to be a natural dwarf, but I have no idea how big medlar trees usually get. After about 6 years now mine is about 8 ft tall and obviously can be easily kept smaller. The fruit is about one inch in diameter, and tastes tangy and refreshing. Well bletted medlars were said to taste like “spiced apple sauce”, which does not sound so great to me, but the Nana medlar tastes nice I am glad it is not a bit like any apple sauce, I’d say it reminds me of *raw* Chinese hawthorn in taste and apple sauce in texture. (The Chinese hawthorn used in TCM or candies is roasted, and the aroma was thus much enhanced.).
I don’t bring Nana medlars indoor to blet. After a few initial frosts of the cold season, they are ready for eating off the tree when the skin turns from light brown to dark brown. They do not become ready all at once, and even when well bletted, they are good on the tree for quite a while, so I just eat a few everyday when I am out in my backyard. The tree is very productive, sometimes I pick a bunch, squeeze the “sauce” out and ran it through a strainer/food mill (to remove seeds) to make a jar of medlar sauce to freeze down. (The sauce is pretty thick for a strainer, so a bit of dilution with apple juice might be good.)
The Nana tree in my backyard has a nice form by itself, beautiful flowers, nice fall colors, and those medlars I did not pick seemed enjoyed by some little birds. I like it very much.
Great post, ET.
My Royal medlar tree is about 15 feet tall, but it is over 20 years old.
I saw a recipe for medlar jam, which looked like a great way to deal with the small size of the medlars. The meat looked to be brown. I hesitated to eat any medlars for fear that the rotten part would taste yucky. Guess I need to be more adventurous. I would love to get some scions of the two large ones I mentioned above. They were huge and it would be interesting to try more than one type from a tree. Are there a lot of varieties at the scion fair? Can I get Dzevera Garden Gori or Narashenik for example?
There aren't going to be any more scion fairs/Fruit Propagation Fairs. This website is it now for HOS.
Two places where you can buy scions are the TOC and Tonia's Home Orchard Education Center.
Thanks, John. So I guess my medlar really is smaller than a typical medlar tree. So far it shows no sign of wanting to grow big.
I think I need to make a correction: the name I referred to my tree might be wrong. I just looked at OIKOS and found no medlar tree with such a name, they offer seeds only (at this moment). My tree is sitting right next to a dwarf beach plum, which is for sure named Nana (a common name for dwarf varieties), also from OIKOS. Maybe I just say “Nana” to myself everyday I walk by the medlar and the name stuck (plus my memory is leaky and never have the good habit of keeping good documentation).
I forgot to mention: the cuttings root readily, I am exploring the use of such dwarf medlar as rootstock or nursery trees. Also, dwarf trees are actually no good for my place - deer enjoy sampling everything, and actively destroy many of them, thus most of my apples are on Antonovka or at least M7 and trimmed to be above “deer line” while kept small. It has been years now, these hoofed rats love to kill my Chinese hawthorn, but they do not touch the medlar. Strange.
My medlars don't root from cutttings nearly as well as my quinces do, which is apparently much easier than some other people's quinces do. I think they can be grafted to each other.
It's interesting in ET's notes that his medlar is not yet bothered by deer.
ET: If possibly likely (in the case) deer are bothering your nana beach plum. If that's not what you were meaning to say then forget the rest of this offer to trade a bigger more established 'plumxcherry' to you as exchange for yours. The other day I dug out my 'nadia' hybrid from my small greenhouse. Every year I had to reduce the size for too small an area. I would be interested in taking the trip south to you for a one for one trade. (see bottom icon)
The hybrid plums have plum flavor with red flesh and fruit shape like a cherry but bigger than any cherry. I retained one small branch and it performs well high on my marianna 2624 under outside conditions.
For reasons noted a small greenhouse plum like yours is just what I want. I had a beach plum grafted high on citation stock once upon a time. It was by far the last thing to break bloom in the spring and in turn keep all my constant supply of pollinators happy. The beach plum section eventually petered out though, of course due to the PNW influences of disease, however my citation was not bothered. I will turn to the nursery you provided in your post if I don't hear back, but consider a PM to me with your phone contacts.
Rooney, please check PM.
(Sorry for getting off topic ...)
Deer do not bother my beach plum much, probably because I have so many other tasty treats for them.
One of the HOS board members told me a few years ago that beach plums grew wild in the Puget Sound area, so I never thought much about mine, which are out there to all the elements of the PNW weather, only 5 ft tall, healthy, with profuse spring flowers and abundant fruits.
In terms of fruit quality, I don’t know of any other beach plum to compare, they are OK. Not much meat; sweet, slight bitterness, a fun garden snack when in season. To me they are great ornamental to keep pollinators happy.
I think our "deer" comments are equally important. From the plants point of view (the bushy beach plums) there must have to be some inherent way for the species to thrive the way they have in bush form and it may not be those other treats.
..very interesting thread too. I did PM back because I had a reason to, so Thanks !
I noticed that Rain Tree Nursery has some interesting Medlars that appear to be larger. They are claiming 2.5 to 3 inches. I doubt that. I'd happy with 2-inch diameter fruit.
From the pics this one seems the largest:
In regards to the scion exchange/fair, if that is changing may I suggest that HOS develop a specific process for working with TOC and Tonia's Home Orchard Education Center. Timeframe, cost, availability, capability, etc.. This probably would be a great idea for developing a webpage just for this "exchange". HOS could bundle the request and send them in an organized fashion to both organizations so they have a method to their madness. HOS could also take a light fee for the website. I honestly would not know what to do about the names you dropped in terms of contact, availability, etc... and I anticipate that approaching those organizations in an unorganized fashion would produce negative results. Also, what about having nurseries eventually sponsoring the scion/propagation and fruit fairs?
BTW, not sure what TOC is.
Great post, jekahrs!
TOC is the Temperate Orchard Conservancy. It was brought about by Joanie Cooper, with the help of Shaun and Franki Baccelieri (Sp?). The goal was to save the many varieties of apples stored in the world's largest scion orchard, that of the late Nick Botner. He was an enthusiastic HOS member and heroic orchardist in the Southern Willamette Valley. He sold scion for many years. People knew about him all over the world. When he got into his mid eighties, he was looking for a buyer for his unique property. People thought that maybe the whole orchard would be plowed under. They saved the varieties for future benefit.
A group protocol for Home Orchard Education Center is a great idea. I will have to talk to Tonia about this. I don't know if a nursery would be willing to sponsor a scion exchange, because they might see it as, "Why would anyone want to buy a tree for $35 when they can graft 3 of them for $10?
Back in the day, Lorraine and Jim Gilbert gave tours of One Green World. They said that, in their opinions, the largest varieties of medlar weren't the best tasting.
I bet that Tonia would be ok with people coming by and trying some fruits if they were really interested in buying scions. That would probably be something that people could work out. Maybe only for people on this web site. She might not open it up to everyone. We'll have to see.
John: In regards to the scion exchange/fair, if that is changing may I suggest that HOS develop a specific process for working with TOC and Tonia's Home Orchard Education Center. Timeframe, cost, availability, capability, etc.. This probably would be a great idea for developing a webpage just for this "exchange". HOS could bundle the request and send them in an organized fashion to both organizations so they have a method to their madness. HOS could also take a light fee for the website. I honestly would not know what to do about the names you dropped in terms of contact, availability, etc... and I anticipate that approaching those organizations in an unorganized fashion would produce negative results. Also, what about having nurseries eventually sponsoring the scion/propagation and fruit fairs?
John: I will PM you in regards to cover some of HOS costs that Jekahrs brought up to you.
..as yourself and many of us I'm also trying to help Tonia feel that we together can further along for promoting /supporting good cultivars etc. and ultimately through weeding out the less adaptive as we are already doing. It's so clear that's why everybody signs up and comes here to HOS dot org, and so happy that nothing incredibly sad has come about here at all.
I mentioned the idea of getting nurseries and stuff involved. They don't have to do the scion fair. But having them help out for the fruit fair, for example, could be right up their alley. I hope the fruit fairs start again, and hopefully, HOS will make it a point of helping people taste different cultivars for fruits other than apples and pears (I love both, but...). Such as Medlars, paw paws. So people could compare different paw paws or different products. One year it could be cultivars, the next year it could be a tasting exhibition on how to use the fruit: Ice Cream, Danishes, beer, etc..
BTW, are you folks still taking money for membership? My finances have really been stretched, but then realized I waste more money on bad beer and crappy ice cream. At this time are you waiting until after the first of the year?
I believe in this organization. There are some amazing and cool people on this site and I think there is a great opportunity for the future. This brings me to point 2: Why not set up a Zoom meeting during the first quarter of next year. I know I would be happy to volunteer for something. I have been busy hunting for a new job, but at least with HOS I won't be wasting my time. LOL. This is what I would put on the Agenda:
1. Review goals of HOS and make adjustments to reflect where we would want to go in the future. What would be the ideal membership and how do we get there? Is the HOS name good for the internet and marketing to new members.
2. Discuss post-COVID organization. Things like monthly Zoom meetings 2 out of 3 months a quarter. Have a potluck in person each quarter.
3. Talk about organizational Outreach. There are so many organizations like The Hardy Plant Society where we can set up relationships and do things like set up a booth to get new people, and perhaps we could sell some plants from a nursery and get a cut.
4. Talk about revising the website. Ideally we could appoint a secretary who with little intrinsic knowledge could learn to change content. Could also put a Paypal type page for people to pay their dues directly. What do we want the website to do? How about more young people and people of color? Maybe develop programs to address those issues.
Anyway, I'm kinda an idea person, so I throw everything at the wall.
I think people are underselling the HOS. The stuff from Portland Nursery below tells me there is an opportunity. From the Portland Nursery website:
Community Outreach & Donations
Every year we proudly support over 400 local schools, social services, gardening programs, and other nonprofit organizations with both sponsorships and in-kind donations. We believe in supporting hands-on gardening that increases food security and educational opportunities while also creating healthy neighborhoods and ecological habitats.
If you would like to contact us about a donation, partnership, or educational opportunity, please email our Community Outreach Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also sign-up for our monthly newsletter to receive updates from our Community Outreach program in addition to our tried and true horticultural tips and current specials!
We hope to hear from you soon, but until then—be healthy, be safe, and grow your passion!
What I have heard is that we aren't taking money for memberships right now. The old HOS gave us some seed money and one of the individuals has donated to start us for this year. We may take donations for next year. Zoom meetings could be a possibility. Two problems with potlucks is that people are not very tightly located and we still have Covid 19. I think you've got good ideas and energy.
Thanks for humoring me John. HOS is a big organization with a storied history. Just me being enthusiastic. I will watch and see what happens. As an FYI, the winemaking club that I am a member of meets once a month (By zoom now). But before and after we met/will meet all the way over at the grange in Beaverton. About half hour to 45 minutes from where I live in East Portland. Before that, we were FAR out at Oak Knoll Winery. A meeting typically attracts between 20 and 25 people. One could make it twice a year too. A winter party and a summer party. Yeh, Covid... that... 🙁
I am a distiller in Portland, and last December a grower near Eugene sold me about 3600 lb of medlars to turn into brandy. I wasn't very familiar with the fruit and worried about processing them so I visited the germplasm repository in Corvallis (https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUs.....scult.html) to get a sense of them. Our visit was a little early for some of the varieties but some of wild Georgian / Armenian trees had bletted fruit along with Nottingham, Breda, and a couple others. After ripening, I found the flavor of the Georgian varieties to be much better than the larger Nottingham, with smaller seeds and much more acidity and sweetness. The form made eating them a little less grotesque as well, as they were more teardrop shaped which eased squeezing the pulp out. The Nottingham was closer to banana & apple puree on the inside, without much acidity.
After this project in talking with various folks I heard from a few people from Turkey & Georgia that medlars are not that uncommon there and learned in Turkish they call pucker face "musmula surat" which literally means "medlar face"
Great information, BrandyAndy.
I noticed 4 medlars from Georgia on the link. Are there any that you liked more than others? I have ordered from the germplasm repository before and liked it. I am very interested in trying some of them.
I would love to hear which was your favorite.
I will flip through my photos to see if I recorded it but I don't think I did. I knew the varieties I was purchasing were similar to Nottingham so that was what I focused on (as much as I COULD focus, the orchard is truly amazing and that late in the season all that remains are the real oddities like sorbus crosses, crataegus, chinese quince etc many of which I'd never seen in fruit before).