The following post was written by Woodlore Aspirant Instructor Sarah Day:
This year has been a good one for many fruits (and fungi) – bumper crops of blackberries, apples and wild plums have been gathered in profusion by all who keep a keen eye on the hedgerows. I have recently tried parasol mushrooms (pictured below). Again, it seems to have been a bumper year for these, and I’ve cooked them up with wild sweet chestnuts and rice. Rice cooked with a little prepared acorn meal is another wild food recipe I can heartily recommend.
But this year has brought me a new opportunity: the opportunity to try possibly one of the un-loveliest fruits found growing wild in the UK – the humble medlar (pictured above). The fruit of the medlar tree (Mespilus germanica) is a peculiar thing, looking something like a huge brown ‘rosa rugosa’ rosehip, or a very deformed and rotten apple. They bear the distinction of being one of few fruits that must be bletted, i.e. hit by a frost so that they are really on their way to being rotten before they can be counted as ‘ripe’ (or stored for long enough so that bletting takes place naturally). Shakespeare and various other writers clearly didn’t think much of them, the ‘rotten before they’re ripe’ quality put in an appearance in several plays as a metaphor for moral rottenness. Continue reading »