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Jun 23, 2012 01:45 AM

Enormous Loquats Grown by Hank Wetzel (Healdsburg)

Last weekend I noticed a new vendor at the Saturday morning farmers market in Healdsburg. Well, actually, the basket of fruit is what caught my attention. These were the hugest loquats I've ever seen, about 2" across, and in quite good shape with fewer bruises than typical. The grower said they were unusually big this year as well as a bumper crop, estimating that his tree would yield about 5,000 fruits. Not wanting the fruit to go to waste, he decided to sell at the farmers market. At 8/$1, they're quite a bargain. Fully ripe, the skin zips off easily for those inclined to peel their fruit (as I do, though most do not). He said he expected to continue to have them for another 10 days or so, meaning through today's market.

We also bought some lettuces from his garden for 50ยข per head. I asked for his card, and learned I'd been chatting with Hank Wetzel of Alexander Valley Vineyards.

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  1. Bought more loquats this morning. Mr Wetzel says he'll still have some next Saturday.

    He had some yellow-green plums today, and I liked that he could tell me that they were plucked from the tree at 6am. Figs will appear later in the season. I bought a big bunch of tarragon for a buck. He also had culinary sage and chives. Since it was the end of the day, he also threw in a couple small heads of lettuce. I got a lot for $5 here.

    The friends from SF who shopped the Healdsburg market with me last week were charmed by and commented on the growers like this one who bring just a small table of produce for sale unlike what they see in the City's farmers markets. I was pleased that they noticed, as this market has a number of farms that only sell here, and also small growers who will have a stand for a few weeks when they have, for example, walnuts or persimmons from a backyard orchard to sell.

    1. My loquat tree is producing big fruit as usual but it is not yielding as much fruit as last year. The loquats are ripening a little later but they are sweeter than last year. It's nice to be able to wait to pick the loquats as it ripens on the tree.

      3 Replies
      1. re: CYL

        I noticed that the loquat trees at work (Tucson, AZ) were more loaded down with loquats than i've ever seen them. Unfortunately I spaced out picking them completely until they were all falling off the trees.
        They don't make loquat wine there, just for shiz and giggles, I don't guess, but they should give it a try, I bet it'd be really good

        1. re: EWSflash

          Yesterday I did say, "You haven't figured out how to make wine from loquats yet?" He shook his head and laughed.

        2. re: CYL

          Lucky you! We had some from a friend's tree in San Jose. The trucks usually show up in SF Chinatown to hawk them on the sidewalk during the season.

        3. Loquats seem to be well suited to the Bay Area micro climate. When I was growing up in West Berkeley, we had a tree and spent summers up on the garage roof gorging on them and spitting the seeds at each other.

          Somehow, any I have had since just don't compare. Wish I wasn't to lazy to drive up to Healdsburg.