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Loquats!

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The loquat tree in my yard is so loaded with ripe fruit the branches are drooping, and I hate to leave ALL that lovely fruit for the birds and bees. Problem is, I've never prepared loquats before. Doing a google search leads me to all the same recipes, which sound fine and I'll try either a sauce or jam or both. But still I have questions for anyone who's prepared loquats before.

Do you have a favorite or preferred preparation? Cooked lightly in a sugar syrup, loquat jam, spiced loquats, or just eaten raw? To preserve them, a spice-flavored syrup is appealing, can I just add spices like ginger, clove, cinnamon to the standard jam recipe? I've seen a recipe for spiced loquats that calls for vinegar, and pickling is not what I'm after here.

Regarding the skin, does the quality of jam or a cooked sauce suffer if the skins are left on? The loquats are so small that just getting the peels off all of them looks like a task that will take the better part of the day, and if leaving the skin on doesn't negatively affect the final product, I'd like to know. Also, if you have an easy way to remove the skin please share.

Any advice or wisdom is welcome! Thanks in advance.

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  1. Where I live (in Israel) we have lots of loquats. In Hebrew they're called shezekim. They're in season now. All I've ever made from them is jam (definitely leave the skins on). Here's a link to a local website (in English) with a few creative ideas for loquats.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MarkC

      "Here's a link..."???

      1. re: Joebob

        Sorry. Here's the link:

        http://food.lizsteinberg.com/tag/loquat/

        1. re: MarkC

          Thanks! this link has something different that what I was able to find.

    2. I actually have never heard of loquats before. Please tell us more. What do they taste like? They look a little like apricots. Do they have the same texture as stone fruits? (peaches, apricots, plums)

      4 Replies
      1. re: John E.

        Although they aren't available in my neck of the woods, I've been lucky to have them a few times in my life, while on vacation in SF. They are a stone fruit, look a little like a small apricot but are more tear shaped, are fuzzy and taste exotic, like a cross between a guava and a passion fruit, if you can imagine that, sweet when ripe but acidic, sort of apricoty-plumy-grapey. They're used in jams as they have a high pectin content. There are lots of different varieties of loquats, from what I've read.

        They grow readily in California, as well as other warmer parts of the world.

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          I grew up eating these (friend's tree in Los Angeles) and don't remember ever seeing a fuzzy one - skins were always smooth, like nectarines . . . maybe different variety, like you said. and you totally nailed the flavor. I love to just eat them raw when ripe, so sweet/tart/juicy! Friends were Guatamalan, and they used to make juice out of them, but it would kill me - after playing in their yard all afternoon as a kid, hot and sweaty, i'd go to gulp down a big glass of loquat juice, and find it had been SALTED! like a lot of Central Americans and their fruits, they like to salt them. Never acquired that taste.

          1. re: mariacarmen

            Yummy!! I always salt my juice/fruit, never knew south americans do that too!!

            I only know of the smooth skinned variety.

            1. re: mariacarmen

              Bushwickgirl is right on the flavor, though I fail to detect a flavor of passion fruit, at least not the variety growing in my yard. The skins are smooth, and somewhat leathery, don't really like to eat the skin. The texture is closer to that of a lychee than a peach or apricot. They're quite nice, but I think I'll try cooking them rather than eating them out of hand. I think they have a lot of sugar, because they're quite sticky when cut up.

        2. The vinegar in the spiced recipe would probably keep the fruit from turning brown, which it does awfully fast, though it's hard to tell without seeing the quantity.
          I've made loquat ice cream but the flavour was so mild it kind of got lost, some spice or other flavour would have perked it up.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pepper_mil

            I think you're right about the vinegar - I chopped up some of the loquats this morning to add to our breakfast cereal and they turned brown quite quickly.

          2. When they're ripe just eat them, sooooooo good.

            Grew up on them in pakistan, but found very little here in Canada.

            1 Reply
            1. re: BamiaWruz

              Ah, memories of this delicious fruit come back to me. My parents had a tree and we'd descend on it like vultures whenever the loquats were ripe. Delicious and easy to eat because the seeds are big.

            2. Where do you live? I'm from the Bay Area in California and none of the loquats on the trees are ripe yet. They usually ripen in the summer for us. But anyway, I think you'd be best off making sugar preserves with the whole loquats. (Use as a topping for ice cream, cheesecake, French toast, or maybe even make a pastry cream fruit tart with it.) I've never tried it before, but maybe you could remove the skins by blanching the whole fruits (with an X slit in the skin) in boiling water for 10 seconds or so. Then submerge immediately in ice water and then proceed to peeling. (This is the same method for peeling a tomato or a peach.) If the skins don't come off easily, you need to put them back in boiling water for a few more seconds. Careful not to boil too long, especially if the fruits are soft and ripe.

              If you have passion fruit in your area, I think loquats and passion fruit would be a great combination. The passion fruit would really bring out loquat's floral qualities. Short of that, maybe add a bit of orange flower water when you're done with the preserves. I'm not too fond of the spices. I think the warm flavors mask the light, fresh qualities of loquat.

              http://foodsafety.psu.edu/canningguid...

              This USDA website might point you in the right direction on making preserves.

              2 Replies
              1. re: michaelnrdx

                I'm on the treasure coast of Florida, my loquats are at the peak of ripeness, in fact when I harvested all I cared to the other day, I got them just in time for the woodpeckers, warblers, mocking birds and other fruit-eating birds have descended on the tree and are working to poke holes in every remaining fruit.

                I've seen various suggestions on blanching the fruit to remove the peel and have settled on this: cover the prepared fruit with boiling water, add 1/2 cup lemon juice per quart of water, and blanch for five minutes. Drain, reserving the juice, let the fruit cool then remove the skins. After that I'll return them to a cooking pot, with the juice and additional sugar to cook down to a preserve or jam. Haven't decided whether I'll can or just freeze the result, nor have I decided upon any spicing at this point. Thanks for the tips and the link to the usda site. Most helpful.

                1. re: janniecooks

                  I'd suggest you test a few of the loquats with the boiling water first to determine the blanching time. Otherwise, if you blanch the whole lot too long, you'll lose everything.

              2. Now I know why loquats are not a very common fruit (besides the fact that they need a tropical climate to grow) - they are extremely time-consuming to harvest and prepare.

                For a couple quarts of loquats I spent the better part of a day working on them. First I washed the fruit, de-stemmed them, cut off the blossom end and covered with boiling water with a half-cup of lemon juice. I simmered them for about 20 minutes, until the skins loosened up a bit, then drained and cooled them, reserving the juice, which I strained through a coffee filter.

                Peeling and seeding the loquats was the most labor-intensive part of the task. Loquats vary in size from about the size of a grape to the size of a kumquat. Having eating a few out of hand, I did not want the skin in the finished product. So I peeled the skins off of quarts of the little fruits; cut them in half to remove the seeds and for most of them I also had to remove the membrane that surrounds the seeds - again no easy task, but the membrane can be tough, almost as tough as the membrane that surrounds apple seeds. They're unsightly and tough, so they had to come off.

                I had a bit more than 4 cups of juice, which I combined with roughly 3 cups of sugar, since I intended to freeze the fruit, brought it to a boil and simmered for about 30 minutes. Once the syrup had cooled I poured it over the prepared loquats.

                Final verdict is that the since flavor of loquats is pretty mild and low-key, not tropical like passion fruit (which has been know to make grown women swoon!), combined with the time-consuming preparation, they're not worth it. I'll never do this again! It was definitely a labor of love with a low payoff; next year I'll leave all the fruit for the birds to enjoy.

                2 Replies
                1. re: janniecooks

                  If you don't want too much work, you could just eat them raw, or make a jam. You don't have to worry about seeds, peels, or membranes until the end. Just push everything through a strainer and you'll be rid of it.

                  1. re: michaelnrdx

                    Actually, you should remove the seeds if you're making a jam. The seeds are actually toxic (as is the same with apricots, peach, cherry, plums, apples). They contain cyanide. But no need to worry about peels or membranes. That can be pushed through a strainer.

                2. peel and eat is my favorite way to eat loquats. makes me remember of the times spent in my grandma backyard just picking loquats off the tree. there are companies that can them because i have bought loquats packed in liquid before since fresh loquats are rare to come by in my area.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: vttp926

                    we always ate the skin. Just spit out the seeds. Great backyard activity.

                  2. Why would you eat them any way but raw off the tree?????? Of all the fruits we had growing out in the yard in Los Angeles growing up, loquats are the fruit I miss the most here in New York. Every time I see them in a store I get so excited - and then when I taste one they are completely bland and flavorless, nothing like tart addictive fruit I loved so much as a kid. Please, do me a favor - live it up and gorge yourself on them right off the tree.

                    1. I made a loquat crumble last year. Pretty good - prepared similarly to any other fruit crumble.

                      The big downside is that seeding and peeling that many loquats is a big pain.

                      1. If you need to peel the loquat fruits (sometimes the recipe is better) then just do like you do to peel tomatoes. Using a strainer or a pot insert that drains, fill it about 2/3 full of fruit and lower the fruits in to boiling water for about 30 sec. Put the fruit into a large bowl of ice water. The skins will slip right off. Then the task is getting all those big seeds and the membranes; not nearly as much work as peeling fresh fruit.

                        1. Loquats are what in Italy are called nespole, or a close relative, and they're practically the first fruit of summer. I see the trees here in Rome. We just peel them and eat them. Never saw anybody cook with them. They tend to be quite tart, but I once ate an oldish one that looked so ratty I almost threw it away, and it was delish. I realized that we usually eat them too soon and they need to ripen.