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« Team Indy recap | Main | Buttermilk cake »

Loquat love in Texas

A magical thing has happened. Our new place came complete with a fruit tree, and a kind of fruit I’d been curious about for some time, loquats!

It’s a southern thing, apparently. A native of China, the tree fruits in mid- to late spring here in Central Texas. Loquats are also called Japanese plums or Japanese medlars (so says these folks). Addie wrote about them last year, and she even formed loquat awareness week! Check out her latest post for other recipe ideas, like jelly, pico de gallo and a shrub!

I think the loquat is similar in taste to a plum/apricot mix, and in texture like a mango/apricot mix. They’re delicious in any case and I’ve been popping them as they ripen in arm’s reach.

I will say that the yellow ones are best. Once they ripen to their orange-y state, they’re not very flavorful any longer.

As the rest of the tree ripened, I did what any preserver ought to do in these circumstances. Climb!

When life gives you free fruit. You should eat it, as many ways as possible.

I made French-style preserves a la Christine Ferber’s finicky (but worthwhile) preserving preparations with my first harvest. This preserve is essentially just halves in syrup, if you’re looking for more of a jam, pull out your potato masher.

Loquat Preserves

makes 1-1/4 pints

1. Pluck 2lbs of whole loquats then halve them, skin them, seed them.

2. Place the prepared loquats in a glass or ceramic bowl and add to them:

1-1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

1 lemon, juiced

Let this mixture sit at room temp for an hour, covered with parchment or something to keep fruit flies out.

3. Bring mixture to a simmer over med to med-low heat, remove from heat and place back in the bowl. Refrigerate covered overnight.

4. Strain loquat halves out of the refrigerated mixture while pouring out the syrup into a heavy-bottomed, wide base pot or deep skillet. Bring syrup to a boil over med-high heat, cooking the syrup until the bubbles get larger and more spaced out. Time will depend on your pot, but it’ll probably take about 7-10 minutes at a med-high boil for the syrup to thicken slightly. Skim foam if necessary.

5. Add the loquat halves to the boiling syrup and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and ladle mixture into jars. Refrigerate once they’ve cooled down a bit.

Turns out peeling loquats, while not difficult, is not that fun. The next project involves a food mill, because why peel when you can just crank the skins off. If you don’t have a food mill you still don’t necessarily need to peel them, but you’ll want to puree the fruits as finely as possible since the skins don’t soften in the cooking process.

Loquat butter

makes 4 half pints

1. Seed 3lbs loquats by halving them from pole to pole and place in a stock pot large enough to contain them. Cover halves with just enough water to completely submerge your loquats.

2. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to keep loquats at a low boil for about 15-20 minutes. You want your loquats to be still intact, but rather tender and soft. Drain off liquid. (Use if for syrup if it’s concentrated enough and actually tastes like loquats.)

3. Mill your halves on the medium screen of a food mill. I did just one mill, but those of you looking for a fine, velvety, spotless butter, might want to run it through the fine screen after the medium one. Measure your loquat puree, you should have about 3 cups now.

4. Place puree in a wide-based, heavy-bottomed pot and add:

1-1/4 cup sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

Juice from 1 large lemon, strained

5. Bring to a boil over med-high heat and cook until mixture starts to thicken and the bubbles get larger (about dime-sized) and begin to space out. Stir periodically to make sure the sugar is not scorching on the bottom of the pan. It will likely take about 12-16 minutes for your butter to thicken, depending on your pan and the temp. You can use the spoon test if you’d like.

You can also add any spicesor flavor additions, I added a pinch of nutmeg (which ended up a bit heavy-handed in final flavoring, dang), a pinch cinnamon and a splash of elderflower liqueur at the very end.

6. Refrigerate and/or freeze or seal jars in a waterbath canner with a 10 minute processing time.

Finally, I made loquat leather at Ernie’s prompting when I chatted with him about my upcoming L.A. trip. He runs a place called The Farmer’s Kitchen in Hollywood.

Your additional flavoring is up to you on this one, and your method is up to you. I’ve only done it once so I can only speak to my experience with loquat leather using the dehydrator method. (I’ve made other leathers successfully in the oven at as low as you can go temp-wise on a parchment lined cookie sheet.)

Loquat leather

makes 3 trays’ worth of leather in my Nesco dehydrator (which would be about 2 cookie sheet’s worth of butter if you did it in the oven)

Follow the same loquat weight and process above (steps 1-3) in the loquat butter recipe to get 3 cups of puree. Place puree in a medium-sized saucepan and add 1/2 cup sugar. Bring it to a simmer and remove pan from heat. At this point, add a pinch of cinnamon or whatever spice addition sounds good, if any. Or keep it simple. I experimented with plain, cinnamon, and cinnamon nutmeg (which tastes like pie fruit leather, mmm).

Spread onto your drying mechanism or heating vehicle. Cook/dry until there are no more sticky spots that come up on your finger.


Update 4/20/12: I’ve had a request for how to make loquat syrup. There are a bunch of ways you could do it; here’s how I do it.

Loquat Syrup

1. Take however many loquats you have on hand, halve them and remove the seeds.

2. Place halves in a sauce pot or pan big enough to contain them. Add filtered water to just below where the loquats come up in the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a med, enough to keep the boil, but not scorch the bottom. After 10 min or so use a potato masher and smash down your loquats. Boil for another 5-10 min, then remove from heat.

3. Mash fruit one more time and then strain solids from the liquid. Measure how much liquid you have and multiply it by .75. That’s how much sugar you should add.

4. Melt the sugar in the loquat juice over med-low heat and then raise heat to med-high to bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Will keep in the fridge for about a week, freeze cubes of your syrup if you’d like for future bevs or projects.

Reader Comments (21)

Great post, Kate! I picked another 8 or 10 pounds of them last night and am itching to get home to play with them...

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAddie Broyles

How do you skin them? I was raised on loquats from my grandmother's tree, but we only ate them right off the tree. Now my next-door neighbors have a tree (12" from my property line, I have issues with this tree that shades the best place in my yard for veggies!). The neighbors hate loquats. I have free reign! And I would LOVE to make jam.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDree

Hey Dree,
With ripe fruits it's fairly easy to slide the peel off; I halve them from pole to pole, and just peel the skin off each half, sometimes even in just one pull. It goes pretty fast once you get on a roll with them.

April 13, 2012 | Registered CommenterKate

Here's a recipe for Japanese Plum Liqueur

40 seeds of loquats - use really ripe fruit to get the seeds

put them on a large plastic tray with space between each seed.
put them into a well ventilated, fairly dark room and allow the seeds to dry for.....may take more less may but the idea is that the dark skins must peel off without the use of a knife.

after the allotted time peel off the skins and place in a 2 liter canning jar. In this put a a 750ml bottle of pure grain alcohol....leave another 40 days till the alcohol becomes amberish colored.

At this point make a sugar syrup with 500 grams of sugar and one half liter of water(bottled is best for liquor making). When cool filter out the seeds from the alcohol and pour in the sugar syrup...put large jar, tightly sealed, into a dark cool place and let mellow for at least a month...the longer it sits the better it is. I'm still finishing my batch from 2005 and it is fabulous.

enjoy...from the West Portico, P

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaula

An Austin friend of mine made Loquat Margaritas! Another addition to what to do with free fruit!

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeatherC

I am fascinated that you would post a recipe for loquat seed hooch--I have read that the seeds are highly toxic. Does the alcohol de-tox them? I used to make loquat jam by boiling the fruit, seeds and all then putting the whole batch thorough a food mill to remove the seeds and skins. (The jam tasted great, but I am worried about the the toxins.)

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

Deb, as with all stonefruits, the seeds do contain a cyanide-generating enzyme, but one would have to ingest the actual seeds in order to run into trouble. The toxins in the stonefruit pits are soluble in both water (which would be in the water and the fruit when you boiled them to make your jam) and alcohol, so when we soak them in alcohol for a liqueur, it gets out the good almond-y flavor and disperses the ions and molecules that formed the cyanogen (the toxic compound). Paula's recipe sounds good and I have a similar recipe for stonefruit liqueur!

April 14, 2012 | Registered CommenterKate

Oooh, Kate! Yum! I've always wondered what a loquat tasted like! Lucy loves a song from the Indigo Girls about a wild, wild party in a loquat tree. To be honest, I hadn't even heard of a loquat until then.
They sound great!

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermeg- grow and resist

The recipe is about 80 years old and is used here in my part of Italy to make what, in the northern part, is called NOCINO - a wonderful -- walnut 'hooch' as you call it. I can guarantee that no one has been poisened by drinking it - maybe tipsy. Hey from West Portico, P

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaula

I don't think I've ever had a loquat! I feel so deprived! What a gorgeous tree. There's nothing like moving in where fruit trees are already working!

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

hoe wonderful for you! I tasted them once in San Diego where they grow everywhere. an indian style chutney would be amazing with them too. I'm pining over your jam and butter though! :)

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertigress

Ah, loquat envy. Adding it to my wishlist of fruit trees in my future orchard.

What a GREAT post!
I just made my first (awesome) batch of loquat jam a few weeks ago. Loquat jam LOVES to be on English Muffins!

I've now tried to plant 2 trees in my backyard, so as to stop raiding our friend's loquat tree ;-)

*runs off to pick loquats and make leather*

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaura

How do I freeze the loquats so that I may can them when I have more time? I work full time during the week and I would like to try several different recipes using the loquats Also How do I make a loquat syrup?.... Thanks picking my friends tree on Sunday and freezing till at least next weekend when I will can my first loquats...

It would take you as much time to prep a recipe as it will to freeze them properly, so I'd say pick which recipes you want to make that don't require skinning them (just seeding them), you can do the initial prep work for making a loquat butter or jelly and put the juice or puree in the fridge until you're ready to use it in the next few days. I'll add a syrup recipe to the post, up top, but briefly, take however many loquats you want, halve them and remove the seeds, place halves in a sauce pot or pan big enough to contain them. Add filtered water to just below where the loquats come up in the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a med, enough to keep the boil, but not scorch the bottom. After 10 min or so use a potato masher and smash down your loquats. Boil for another 5-10 min, then remove from heat. Mash fruit one more time and then strain solids from the liquid. Measure how much liquid you have and multiply it by .75. That's how much sugar you should add. Melt the sugar in the loquat juice over med-low heat and then raise heat to med-high to bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Will keep in the fridge for about a week, freeze cubes of your syrup if you'd like for future bevs or projects.

April 20, 2012 | Registered CommenterKate

Yay, loquats! These are not quite ripe here in NorCal, but I definitely have plans when they are. Thanks for all the great preservation ideas!

April 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

Ohmanohmanohman I love loquats! I had a tree in my front yard when I was growing up and I haven't seen them since. I wax poetic about them all the time and nobody ever knows what I'm talking about.

April 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEB

While out running yesterday in my beachside suburb in Melbourne Australia I came across a familiar looking tree loaded with -----yes you guessed it - loquats - bringing back memories of my own backyard 20 years ago. Picked a bag full and found this website to help me work out what to do with them - so thank you for all the great advice...Will be going back to get more before they disappear till next year..btw. Its mid Spring here.

November 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDenise Carrol

So funny that you know Chef Miller - I have several of pounds of loquats from a local tree and was looking for a recipe to use to bring to a class (to raise fund for Food Forward) that he is teaching in Santa Monica! Such a small world!!! perhaps next time you are in LA - you can come harvest fruit with us Thank You!

May 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBethany

I live in South Florida and have two large 20-30 foot tall trees. Each year I pick about 20 gallons of fruit for my use and leave an equal amount for the neighbors and birds. I make jelly and freeze whole fruit (seeds and skin removed), in addition to eating the fruit fresh. I let neighbors pick as much as they want. The trees are filled with blossoms from October to December, with fruit from January to March (most ripens all at once during a two week period). In the evenings and early mornings, when there is little breeze, the scent of the blossoms is the most wonderful perfume imaginable. Loquats, with large green leaves all year, scented blossoms, and tasty fruit, may be the perfect tree for home landscapes.

November 22, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Thank you! I can't wait to try these recipes.

April 6, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLux

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