Lovin' the Loquat Tree

For many years, I have seen hundreds of loquats fall to the ground unused. The succulent sweet fruits are delectable and offer an array of culinary uses. Often referred to as a Japanese or Chinese plum, loquats have been delighting the senses for thousands of years.

 Newton, Amanda Almira, ca. 1860-1943 Newton, Amanda Almira, ca. 1860-1943  U.S. Department of Agriculture Pomological Watercolor Collection. Rare and Special Collections, National Agricultural Library, Beltsville, MD 20705

Eriobotrya japonica, or the lovely Loquat Tree, is a flowering evergreen shrub or small tree growing up to 20-25 feet tall. The fruit tree is unique in that it flowers in winter and produces clusters of amber colored fruits in early spring. When the gray of winter permeates the landscape, loquat's white flowers and fragrance herald the coming of spring. For year-round fruit, this is an essential addition to the edible garden. If you are lucky enough to have a tree filled with the tasty fruits, here are 5 easy recipes to enjoy.

A few minutes harvest from the lower branches.

Prepare loquat fruit by slicing off the tops and bottoms. Next, make a single slice lengthwise into the flesh. Split apart and deseed. Chop the remaining fruit to desired size.

cleaning a loquat

1. A Seasonal Spring Salad In the Southern states, late winter and early spring supply all the perfect picking's for a delectable salad including mixed lettuces, greens of all varieties, cabbage, carrots, radishes, and edible flowers. Add loquats as a substitute for tomatoes with their tangy sweet flavor.

Straight from the garden to the kitchen. Straight from the garden to the kitchen table.

2. Loquat and Strawberry Confit Strawberries begin to fill our bowls in early spring. The combination of golden loquats with strawberries and a sprig of fresh chopped mint is heavenly.

I shared this with my French neighbor while sipping jasmine tea. Simply divine. I shared this with my French neighbor while sipping jasmine tea. Simply divine.

3. Loquat Salsa Mango salsa is fine but a bit too sweet for my taste. I personally do not like sweet with my savory. The tanginess in the loquat helps blend the sweet with the onion, spicy jalapeño, serrano chile, tomato, cilantro, and lime. Truly a fantastic combination with fajitas or tacos of shrimp, fish, or chicken. Great as a salsa dip for chips too!

Where's the chips? Where's the chips?

4. Loquat Rum (or any alcohol of your preference) Take the chopped fruit and add to a clean sterilized bottle. Add Rum. Leave in a dark cool cabinet for a month. Shake daily to infuse the flavor of the fruit. Makes a lovely golden sweet rum for summer cocktails.

Did somebody say piña colada with a loquat rum float on the top? Did somebody say piña colada with a loquat rum float on the top?

5. Loquat Jam Despite all the difficulties of making preserves, loquat jam is one of the easiest to make. Use a 2:1 ratio of fruit to sugar or 2 cups fruit to 1 cup sugar. Mix fruit and sugar in a bowl and let sit for 1 hour. Then boil for 30-40 minutes stirring often until it sets or gets gel-like. Loquat fruits contain a lot of pectin and will easily set or gel without adding any other ingredients. Once set point is reached, pour the jam into clean sterilize jars and add lids. Let cool, label, and place in the refrigerator. The color of the jam will be a rich amber color. Delectable on toast, tarts, cookies, cream cheese, cheesecake, ice cream, or however your sweet tooth desires.

Loquat Jam

Loquats are a pleasant addition to any springtime meal. Make sure to get some of the fruit before the birds and squirrels. We love to know new ways of cooking with loquats. Please share any of your recipes. Happy Spring! *If you want to know more about preserving, Preserve It

This is the only book you will ever need.  It is excellent for explaining proper sterilization techniques, set points, and a variety of recipes that will excite. Even if you find recipes on the internet, I highly recommend this book for understanding the safety of the preserving process.

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