Medlars: properties, benefits and best uses in the kitchen

Medlars: properties, benefits and best uses in the kitchen

Medlars are typically summer fruits that can be found on market stalls as early as June, even if their ripening begins in spring. Less famous than apricots, they have a fairly similar color and shape, but a decidedly more sour taste, however they are juicier.

Known since ancient times as an ornamental plant, medlars are also associated with legends and traditions which consider them a good omen and to symbolize the feminine virtues of patience and prudence.

There are two different varieties: the European or winter medlar, which is harvested in October and the Japanese medlar, the summer one, which is commonly found on the market.

They are fruits rich in health benefits and with a good nutritional profile. The calories of medlars are not excessive (32 Kcal per 100 g), which makes them ideal on a diet to lose a few extra kilos or to maintain weight.

What are medlars

Medlars are a fruit increasingly loved by consumers, both for the flavor and for the nutritional properties it possesses. From a nutraceutical point of view, the medlar is truly an extraordinary plant, because many parts of it are of great help in keeping our body in shape.

A premise is obligatory when speaking of the medlar tree: the variety that we mainly consume today comes from Asia and ripens in spring. They are the fruits of the plant belonging to a species, Eriobotrya japonica Lindl., native to south-eastern China and improperly called Japan medlar, perhaps because it is widely spread and cultivated also in Japan.

The European or common medlar (Mespilus germanica), on the other hand, ripens in autumn and gives life to fruits with a slightly different color and flavor than those we are used to eating. This typology is now used almost exclusively for ornamental purposes.

The medlar season is the summer one, in fact, they are harvested in June, when they are already ripe. They have a spherical shape with a diameter of about 2-3 cm and have a sweet but slightly sour taste and are a real panacea for health.

Medlars: nutritional properties

With 32 Kcal per 100 g, medlars are rich in water (88.3 g) and fibre, with a small amount of carbohydrates and proteins.

Depending on the variety of medlars, the color of the fruit can vary from an almost red orange to a pale yellow almost white. The different coloring is due to different contents of carotenoids and also affects nutritionally.

The leaf and flower are rich in antioxidants such as phenols and triterpenes; the fruit is rich in sugars, organic acids, carotenoids, flavonoids, phenolic acids and vitamins; the nut is a good source of proteins, starches, tannins and minerals. In fact, medlars are a fruit in which nothing is wasted, not even the stone. They cannot be eaten raw because they are toxic to the body, but you can prepare an excellent medlar liqueur with a flavor similar to amaretto.

Medlars: nutritional values ​​per 100 g

Sodium (mg)6
Phosphorus (mg)11
Ferro (mg)0.3
Potassium (mg)250
Calcium (mg)16
Magnesio (mg)13
Manganese (mg)0.15
Tiamina (mg)0.04
Riboflavin (mg)0.05
Niacin (mg)0.40
Vitamin C (mg)1
Vitamin B6 (mg)0.10
Folate (µg)14
Vitamin E (mg)0.89
Vitamin A (µg)170
Vitamin K (µg)3.30

Source: Food Composition Database for Epidemiological Studies in America and CREA Research Center for Food and Nutrition

Medlars: chemical composition for 100 g

Water (g)88.3
Energy (kcal)32
Protein (g)0.4
Lipids (g)0.4
Cholesterol (mg)0
Available carbohydrates (g)6.1
Total fiber2.1

Source: Food Composition Database for Epidemiological Studies in America and CREA Research Center for Food and Nutrition

What are medlars good for: benefits

The effectiveness of medlars on various pathologies, already intuited in traditional oriental medicine, is supported by current scientific evidence. In particular, they play an important role in the prevention of inflammatory diseases and obesity. Here are the main properties of medlars.

  • Anti-inflammatory activity. Some scientific studies have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory capacity of different parts of the medlar tree such as the leaf, the seed and the fruit both at the pulmonary and peritoneal level. Anti-inflammatory and diuretic, the medlar therefore regulates intestinal function, thanks to the fibers it contains, which promote peristalsis and the elimination of feces, also favoring the regression of hemorrhoids. The not quite ripe fruit, on the other hand, is useful in case of diarrhea.
  • It lowers cholesterol, especially LDL or “bad” cholesterol in the blood, thanks to the presence of pectin, a particular fiber which, in fact, facilitates the reabsorption of cholesterol in the colon and favors its elimination. It is therefore useful for the well-being of blood vessels and the circulatory system, thanks also to the presence of potassium which contributes to the regulation of blood pressure.
  • antidiabetic activity. Medlar leaf and seed extracts are helpful in the prevention and control of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Medlar leaf extract containing corosolic acid and maslinic acid can also significantly improve hyperglycemia.
  • Antioxidant activity. Medlars contain great antioxidant elements. A high correlation was observed between the antioxidant capacity of medlar fruits and their total phenol and flavonoid content.
  • Antibacterial activity against acne. Recent discoveries on the antibacterial effects of loquat triterpenoids may contribute to the development of new natural cosmetic products that can be used to prevent acne.

Benefits of medlar extracts

Loquat extracts have shown other benefits, such as improved liver, lung, and kidney function. In particular:

  • Medlar seeds can improve the kidney function disorder caused by some medicines.
  • Medlar extract has shown neuroprotective effects against oxidative stress. Furthermore, medlars have great antithrombotic potential.
  • The medlar seed extract carries out antiaging activities. In particular, it has shown a powerful stimulating effect on the production of hyaluronic acid in the dermis.
  • Medlar leaf extract inhibits anaphylactic reactions and histamine release. It is therefore considered a good candidate as an anti-allergic resource.
  • When the fruit is ripe, the medlar stimulates diuresis and has laxative properties. But before ripening it has an astringent and antidiarrheal effect.
  • The medlar plant also has stimulating, anti-fatigue and digestive properties. Finally, it has the ability to lower fever, which is why it is considered a natural antipyretic.

Medlars: uses in the kitchen

The medlars can be eaten well ripe, natural: they represent an ideal end to a meal and an excellent snack full of taste and well-being.

They can also be added to fruit salads or become sweet sauces to accompany other desserts or ice creams, to which they give a slightly acidic and fragrant note.

Medlars can also be cooked, preferably boiled or roasted. Furthermore, they can be made into syrup or made into jam or jelly, thanks to the good pectin content. The jam can then be used to prepare tarts and as a filling for desserts.

Finally, the savory side: the medlar-based sauce and jam go well with shellfish and lean fish. But they are also excellent as an accompaniment to cheeses and boiled meats.

How to eat loquats

Medlars have a very short life from the time they are harvested. They can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. Before consuming or cooking them it is necessary to wash them thoroughly and remove the peel.

They can be eaten after meals or as a snack between meals because, thanks to their low glycemic index, they do not cause problems of rapid blood sugar elevations.

How to choose medlars

It is important to know how to choose medlars well. They are very delicate fruits and should be treated with care, from the moment of harvesting to the moment of purchase, but it can often happen that they are subjected to shocks during transport.

An element of choice is the peel of the fruit: the smoother it is, the better the fruit will be. The peel must be free of fluff, must not appear shriveled and must reveal the softness of the underlying pulp, an indication of correct maturation together with the colour. Although linked to the variety, the color of the medlar must be a beautiful yellow or yellow/orange.

The varietal selection carried out by agricultural professionals has made it possible to develop cultivars with increasingly larger fruits and characterized by a soft, sweet-sour, fragrant and refreshing pulp.

alternative uses

There are many uses that can be made of this fruit and other parts of the plant in the phytotherapeutic field.

  • With its dried bark and leaves, decoctions with an astringent action can be prepared to be used as mouthwashes for mild inflammations of the oral cavity, or infusions to drink to obtain an anti-diarrheal effect.
  • The leaves are used as a natural remedy against fatty cough and chronic bronchitis: they are in fact mucolytic and expectorant. They are also considered curative in cases of back pain, vomiting, headaches and viral infections.
  • The medlar fruits are also used in the cosmetic field, for the creation of creams against redness and inflammation. If you want to try making a DIY mask, just crush the pulp of the ripe medlars and add them to a spoonful of honey. Mix the mixture well, spread it on the face for 15 minutes and rinse.


There are no contraindications to the consumption of medlars, except in the case in which…