In  response to the Guess the Mystery Fruit on the facebook page

The medlar, Mespilus germanica, is a member of the rose family and is botanically somewhere between a pear and a Hawthorne. It is a small, deciduous tree of about 20 feet in height and width with a broad crown and heavy foliage although in New Mexico 10-12 feet is more usual. The branches may be contorted or very angular. It is hardy to USDA zone 4 to 9 and grows wild in temperate regions of Europe. It is reported to be indigenous to southwest Asia and southeastern Europe and was introduced to Germany by the Romans. It is said that Medlars were taken to North America by the Jesuits in the 1800s and introduced to South Africa in the 17th century.

The foliage is quite showy in the fall with yellow or red leaves. The fruit, if left on the tree creates winter interest. The leaves are 2 to 6 inches long and 1 to 1 1/2 inches wide, alternate, elliptic, dark green in the upper surface, “hairy” and grayish beneath. The leaf margin is entire, serrated at the apex. The trees dense foliage hides the branches. The solitary flowers appear at the tip of the growth of the year, depending on the location from late April to early June. The five petaled flowers are 1 to 2 inches wide, pinky white and look to me like something like a wild rose. Medlars are self-fertile and if pollination should not occur, the Medlar can set fruit parthenocarpically, that is, without any pollination whatsoever. Of course this bypasses late freeze problems.

The fruit is round, one to two inches in diameter looking somewhat like a brown, over-grown rose hip with a calyx on its crown. The fruit is open at the bottom exposing five seed boxes. Very similar in appearance to large hawthorne fruits

They can also be cooked into jellies and jams as they are high in pectin. “But it has long been regarded as a dessert fruit for connoisseurs. Prof. Saintsbury in his classic book on wines, “Notes on a Cellar”, declared that “the one fruit which seems to me to go best with all wine, from hock to sherry and from claret to port, is the Medlar – an admirable and distinguished thing in itself, and a worthy mate for the best of liquors”.

Francesca Greensack in her fascinating book “Forgotten Fruit” said, “the lingering, slightly sweet, slightly winey flavor makes the Medlar seem like a natural comfit”. She also mentioned “roasting them with butter and cloves as a traditional winter dessert” and recommends jelly made from them “as an accompaniment to game”.”[3]

Medlars like moist but well-drained soil, and full sun and adapt to soil fertility. Medlars can be grown from seed or grafted or budded onto pear, quince or hawthorn rootstock. There are about two dozen cultivars at the National Clonal Germplasm repository of the U.S. department of agriculture in Corvallis, Oregon and others growing wild in Europe. They are considered easy to grow but a bit difficult to start from seed. They work well as a potted “patio” tree if left outside and exposed to winter conditions. The tree fruits as early as three years, producing a good crop.

Medlars must be “bletted” before eating.  Bletting is the ripening process that must be undergone by a limited range of fleshy fruits. American persimmon is another and sometimes quince and “Sorbus” species. Some fruits are sweeter after bletting, others can only be eaten raw once bletted. The process is simple, wait for a hard frost and pick the fruit. At this point it is very astringent, hard and starchy, not really edible.  Then store in sawdust or straw somewhere cool for 3-4 weeks.  Now is where bletting occurs. Most fruits would spoil or decay and ferment.  Due to an enzymatic action medlars will convert the starches to sugars and soften the fruit while turning it to a dark brown pulp from whitish.  It also decreases the acids and  tannins that cause the astringency. How to tell when it is ready?  When the fruit is the consistency of  jello in a balloon. They can be eaten raw as described by spooning out the mushy pulp which hardly seems a workable idea due to the small size.  I suggest using the “vampire method” where you bite the skin and suck out the contents.  The flavor is like apple sauce or apple butter with cinnamon. Of course they can be used in baked goods or jellies, wines and all sorts of other items.

* Some of the above (the boring stuff) was plagiarized from Dave’ garden website with additions by the editor of this blog