Jane Steward grows medlar trees, and makes medlar jelly each year. Her first medlar tree was a wedding present, and she planted it where there was once a fruit farm of 2,000 apple and pear trees. She has won awards for her medlar jelly which she sells under the Eastgate Larder name. Jane curates the UK’s National Collection of medlar trees which she grows in Norfolk.
Medlars orginally came from the Caucasus region, Turkey, Georgia and the Balkans. After the first world war, the popularity of medlar fruit waned, and it became almost forgotten. Jane Steward has been a huge force in the revival of this ancient fruit.
Jane is the holder of the Plant Heritage National Collection of medlar trees since 2020. She owns Eastgate Larder, specialist maker of medlar preserves. Her vision and strategy is to revive awareness of the medlar in our gardens and kitchens. She cares for 115 trees in her medlar orchard at her Eastgate in Norfolk home, where she hand-makes preserves, and compounds Norfolk Medlar Gin Liqueur.
Her early career was in the City, and she read German and French at university. In 2002 she trained as a leadership coach and ran her coaching company, Hayfield Group, until 2016.
Nigel Slater on Instagram, October 2023
Anyone with a tree or access to a decent supply of medlars may be interested to know there is, at last, a comprehensive guide to everything medlar. Here is medlar curd, vinegar, sticky toffee pudding, walnut loaf and even pickled medlars. Plus everything you need to know about growing and looking after them.
Hortus, December 2023, John Akeroyd
“I warmly welcome this book about a tree that has always intrigued me. The very existence of medlars contradicts industrial food production, crop monocultures and conventional supermarket produce. Archetypal ‘slow food’, the medlar deserves an honourable place among positive emerging trends towards wild gardening, regenerative farming, agro-forestry and foraging, amid, as Jane Steward suggests, ‘encouraging and discernable shifts in our food and farming systems’. Hopefully her lively and informative ‘story of my medlar life’, will bring these fruits many new friends now and in the future.”
Mark Diacono – food writer, winner of the André Simon Food Book of the Year
At last: the book about medlars. This beautifully written hymn to that most under-appreciated fruit covers everything from its history to the inventive, delicious recipes that will have you making the most of its unique and special flavour. An essential read for those with a foot in the kitchen or the garden.
Tom Jaine in Petits Propos Culinaires, April 2023
An intriguing fruit that most people know but do nothing about. Jane Steward is the founder of the only medlar-focussed business in Great Britain, Eastgate Larder Ltd, possessing an orchard of 115 trees in Norfolk, which is also the Plant Heritage National Collection. So she should know it all. This is a most excellent, clearly written, instructive, helpful and interesting volume. Sometimes an encyclopaedia article is all you desire, or a good dictionary definition, but a small monograph that covers all the points, and has a few anecdotes, instructions, recipes and pictures to boot, is often so comforting to have as a back-up, or as a springboard to further thoughts. This really does the business. I only regret that our own efforts to grow a medlar in our orchard were blighted.
Nic Miller of Tales from Topographic Kitchens, writing in Suffolk News, April 2023:
‘it is a compact, beautifully designed and invaluable guide for everything you need to know about the medlar, in clear, elegant prose…If you have only heard of medlar jelly, this book is for you: Recipes for Medlar and Ginger Creams, Ripple Ice Cream and an ice cream made with Salted Medlar Curd, Medlar Vinegar, Chutneys and Preserves, Pheasant Breasts with Thyme and Medlar, a luscious Mincemeat, and a Walnut and Medlar Loaf are just a few.’ April 2023