An oriental fruit that found its home in the heart of Axarquía
Medlars are a delicious spring fruit that is specially linked to the village of Sayalonga. Since the 1980s, they have become there their main plantation. The village is even known for the touristic slogan ‘Paradise of Medlar’. Every season, almost half a million kilo of this small fruit, that was introduced in the 1980s as an alternative to traditional fruits, is collected. Today, Sayalonga, together with two villages in Granada, is one of the few villages in Andalucía that has historically decided to grow medlars. In fact, the village is surrounded by thousand of trees that bear fruit in spring. These fruits are not only consummed in Málaga but it is also sold to other Spanish cities or even exported to some European countries. Medlars from Sayalonga are nutritious, delicious and very juicy fruits. The microclima that this territory has, located between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountain range of Almijara, has possible influenced in the quality of this Asian fruit. In order to give importance to its qualities and call people’s attention to its harvest, they have been celebrating the Day of the Medlar since the 1980s, declaring this day as National Tourist Uniqueness and National Tourist Interest in Andalucía. It is marked on the calendar that each first Sunday of May this popular event takes place so people can tast the fruit and its two main products: jam and liqueur. Besides, as it has been a custom since this celebration started, it is also possible to taste local wine, an artisanal must that is still made in a lot of homes in the village. Some prefer to eat the fruit on its own while others prefer to taste jams or liqueurs. However, it is possible to appreciate the unmistakable flavour the microclimate gives the fruit in both cases.
The majority of medlar production in the province of Málaga is located in the village of Sayalonga, that produces 500 tons of medlars in each harvest. Torrox, that produces 60 tons per season, also grows a considerable amount of the fruit. These two villages have about 80 hectares of medlar grow lands. 300 medlar trees can fit in just one hectare.
The first medlar that arrived to Sayalonga was of the ‘Tanaka’ variety. It came from Japan, though the origin of this fruit seems to be in Southeast China. The fruit was introduced to Europe at the end of the XVIII century, while it was not until a century later when it was spread in Spain. The first land in Sayalonga that grew medlars was the Huerta de Romero. The plant came from a garden located in Nerja. From that first tree, as they explain in Sayalonga, they transplanted it into big cuttings that were born next to the trees.
Medlars are both nutritive and healthy, since their water content makes them very recommendable to those suffering from kidney and liver diseases. This product is rich in sugar, but its calorie intake is relativaley low (50 calories per every 100 grammes). It also has potasium, magnesium and C and B vitamins. Like other fruits, the medlar from Sayalonga has a high content of fibre, so it helps to improve bowel transit.