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Our house had 2 fruit trees already in place when we moved in. They’re a big part of the what prompted me to start our mini orchard and garden. One is our beautiful orange tree which we enjoy for several months, the other is our front yard loquat tree.
For more on our garden:
- Fall gardening in Houston (winter harvests)
- Fruit Tree Update (tour of the orchard)
- Beginning of spring (flowers in bloom)
- Spring garden update (everything planted)
- How to build a garden bed
Most people haven’t heard of loquats (see health benefits) before. There’s several reasons for this. They only grow in sub-tropical climates (Gulf Coast, Florida, Cali in US). They also don’t travel well and their shelf-life is extremely short, so your unlikely to ever see them at your local grocery store.
These little guys are quite delicious if harvested at the right moment. They have a taste similar to a peach but slightly more tart. I think there are hints of citrus but not everyone agrees with that assessment. They texture is very peach-like and they have a really large pit. In relation to the size of the fruit, it’s the largest I’ve seen. It’s probably 2/3 of the fruit. I just pop the entire thing in my mouth and spit out the seed. I haven’t found an easier way to do it.
For those with a tree, you need to know that they go bad extremely fast. You’ve got 2 weeks (max) to do what you will with these little guys. For anyone who doesn’t want to waste a harvest, 2 weeks is a really short window to do something a full size tree of a million little loquats. The first year we had this tree we didn’t even realize what it was. A friend informed us and we enjoyed a bucket or two before they went bad. The 2nd year we ate a lot more, but didn’t really try preserving any of them. They went bad before we realized what happened. This was Year 3 and we were determined to do a bit better. Your options are basically:
- Eat them raw.
- Cook with them
We ate a lot of them raw as well as did some cooking, but that still left an entire tree. Our freezer is full so that left preserving.
First things first, I got up on the ladder with a bucket / bag and my clippers. Because the loquats are so small and I had to frequently move the ladder, this was a long and slow process. You either snip full bunches or just pull them off with your hands.
But first a break for some loquat mojitos!
Here is the big pain and I mean PAIN. As I mentioned above, loquats are more seed than fruit. Doing any type of cooking means taking each one of these little guys, slicing it open and removing 2-2-4 seeds. By the time you do that there’s not near enough actual fruit left. That means cutting and deseeding (is that a word?) a million of these things just to get one large bowls worth of fruit to work with.
For everything we made Caitlin alone probably did prep work for 6-8 hours and I probably added another 4 myself. I honestly don’t know if it was worth it based on how much output we ended up with. I’m really pleased with how it all turned out but on an ROI basis it was brutal.
Very important to note the seeds are POISONOUS. If you have small children or pets be careful to not let any spare seeds get on the floor. It’s easy to do.
Google gave us quite an interesting list of recipes. The most useful lists came from 2 places:
- This wonderful Pinterest board – “Stuff to do with Loquats“
- A variety of posts on the site FullandContent
We decided to make a couple and the photos are mixed so I’ll just put them all here at the top.
Place all ingredients in a large stock pot, cover and bring to a boil.
- • 12 C seeded, halved loquats
- • 6 C sugar
- • 6 C water
- Boil for 5 minutes, uncover, then reduce heat to medium-low.
- Allow to simmer for 2–2 1/2 hours—stirring occasionally and mashing the fruit—or until the loquats have turned a dark amber color and most of the liquid has evaporated.
- Using an immersion blender, blend to your desired consistency.
- Ladle into half-pint jars, wiping the rims clean, screw on rings and lids. Set aside to allow the the jars seal themselves. The jam is shelf-stable and should be refrigerated after opening.
- • 4 lb loquats
- • 3 large jalapenos
- • 1 1/2 C brown sugar (+ more if you prefer a sweeter sauce)
- • 1/8 C Hungarian paprika
- • 8 C cider vinegar
- Cut the loquats lengthwise to remove seeds (they don’t have to be pretty). Place in a large stockpot.
- Remove stems and slice the jalapenos lengthwise and don’t remove the seeds or membranes. Add to the pot.
- Add the remaining ingredients (start with just 1 1/2 C of the brown sugar) and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
- Remove from heat; blend with immersion blender until all the large chunks have been processed.
- Taste and add more sugar if you like, making sure it dissolves completely.
- While sauce is still steaming hot, pour into individual half-pint jars, wipe the rims cleans, and seal. Check to make sure the lids have popped with an indentation in the center for a proper seal. These are shelf-stable.
- • 3 dried guajillo chiles
- • water
- • 3 1/2 lb (10 C) loquats, seeded & membranes removed, halved
- • about 10″ ginger (break off the large “arms” of the ginger and include them in the overall 10″; it doesn’t have to• be exact), peeled, and cut into small cubes, about 1/8″
- • 1/4 C mustard seed
- • 1 1/2 C spring onions, cut into thin rings
- • 12 C sugar
- • 6 C apple cider vinegar
- Cut the stem ends off of the chiles, and shake to remove seeds (you may have to cut out any large pieces of membrane inside). Place in a bowl.
- Bring some water to boil, then pour over the chiles. Let sit for at least 5 minutes to soften.
- Remove the chiles to a blender or mini-food processor and add 3 T of the soaking water. Pulse until a paste is formed.
- Place the paste and all remaining ingredients in a large stock pot and stir well.
- Bring to a boil then simmer uncovered for about 1 1/2 hours or until the fruit is well broken-down and most of the liquid has evaporated and been absorbed.
- While the chutney is still steaming hot, divide into sterilized half-pint jars. Wipe rims and screw on the sterilized lids as tightly as possible. Check to make sure the lids have popped with an indentation in the center for a proper seal. These are shelf-stable.
- 1-1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- Juice from 1 large lemon, strained
- Add loquat purée back into the pan.
- Add sugar and stir to combine.
- Cook loquat purée and sugar mixture for 15 to 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture reaches desired consistency.
- To test for doneness, remove a spoonful and see if it mounds slightly on the spoon. When loquat butter is done, pour it into hot half-pint jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace.
We came away with a pretty solid haul of sauces and preserves that I expect will last a long time. I also enjoyed a lot of the process and this actually takes gardening a step further. I got to see my tree produce fruit, pick it, and then add value and create something I would normally have no clue how to do.
Having said that, loquats aren’t ideal for easy storing and if I put monetary value on it, it definitely wasn’t worth my time, but that’s not the only reason we do things.
Do you have loquats? What do you make? Any thoughts or questions, leave them in the comments.
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