Loquats growing at the top of the tree.
Thanks to the rains we had this winter, the loquat trees in the area are covered with juicy, ripe fruit.
For those who don't know a loquat from a kumquat, let's start with what it is not. Loquats are not citrus fruits; kumquats are. So, the two are not related.
The oblong, yellow to orange fruit resembles a small apricot, but those two are not similar, either.
Loquats have a thin skin and a fairly slight amount of meat plus any number of hard stones at the center. They have a short shelf life once they're picked, and they're fairly messy to deal with. They turn brown fairly quickly, so if you want them to have that just-picked look, you'll need to use Fruit-Fresh or lemon juice in a hurry.
So, why would anyone go to the trouble of dealing with them?
Because they taste great.
Their sweet-tart tingle is why I planted my tree 11 years ago. I had had one when I lived in Florida and I grew to look forward to that fruit as much as I looked forward to the tangelos, grapefruits and lemons that also grew in the backyard. Back then, all I did with loquats was make cobblers with plenty of butter and a biscuit-style crust.
Loquats fresh from the tree.
I am no expert on the scientific nature of loquats. I know they come from Asia, and I know there are several varieties with slight differences in the flavor.
I also knew from research that I would have to wait awhile to get that taste again. It takes at least seven years for a loquat tree to mature. Well, seven years passed and no fruit. Eight, nine, 10 years went by. The last two years, flowers appeared but they either died in a freeze or died in the drought. Thankfully, this year, it exploded with so much fruit that I have had to come up with new ways of preparing it.
One dessert I created mixed strawberries with the loquats in an empanada
filling. For a more savory treat, I put up several jars of loquat pickle
, one of which I plan to serve on Easter Sunday with ham. Loquat pie and cobbler are on their way.
There are a number of other recipe ideas at LoquatWorld.com
, which also has information on the tree itself. Loquat wine? I may have to give it a try.
Do any of you have loquat trees? If so, what do you do with the fruit? Post your answers below.