We are absolutely thrilled to be able to include our first alcoholic drink to our Monthly Forage Box… and what a drink too! Our guest product this month is a superb Medlar Liqueur from the fantastic Heavenly Hedgerows. Medlars are a fairly unique fruit on these shores, with a reputation for looking a bit unusual, taking a while to ripen, before needing to undergo a further process called ‘bletting’ where the starches break down to sugar. All this faff doesn’t exactly make them one for having in the fruit bowl then, but they are certainly worth knowing about and incorporating into your foraging repertoire.
Heavenly Hedgerows makes uniquely artisan preserves and liqueurs from wild and wonderful local fruits and berries, including this limited edition batch of Medlar Liqueur. Chris, the owner of Heavenly Hedgerows, makes all the hand-picked produce at her West Country family farmhouse, in small batches. None of her products contain commercial pectins or preservatives or flavourings. As well as striving for the best in quality and taste, Chris believes wholeheartedly in sensitive and sustainable foraging.
Here’s what Chris has to say about this wonderful beverage:
“I was at a market stall a few years back when a customer offered me her medlars. Living only a couple of villages away from me, I went over one day and after scrambling over brambles and ivy, we reached a magnificent medlar tree in her overgrown orchard. Instead of making the classic medlar jelly, I wanted something a bit different, so popped them in some vodka with sugar and left it for a year. The result was this award-winning liqueur that I just adore. It's not too sweet and has a similar flavour to dates. It's been an annual steep since then! My liqueurs are all hand picked and are steeped for a year - or longer if possible. Then drained, strained and bottled by hand. I don't use any essence of fruit in my liqueurs, just the fruit, the whole fruit and nothing but the fruit. “
Served over ice with a dash of soda water, this makes a perfectly sweet thirst-quencher. If you are after something a little slower and soul-nourishing, you can’t go wrong with filling up a sherry glass or tumbler and enjoying this alongside some sticky toffee pudding as you would a Pedro Ximenez.