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.
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.