Loquats are small, yellowish-orange pear-shaped fruits that originated in Southeastern China many years ago. They were introduced to Japan and cultivated there for over 1000 years. It was thought to be brought to Hawaii by Chinese immigrants. They can also be found in India, The Mediterranean, South America and California. Loquats were unavailable for sale in Hawaii for a period of time due to a fruit fly infestation, but have been grown in small quantities again for the past few years on the Big Island. Loquats are a distant cousin of the apple and has the same high sugar, fiber and pectin. They have a soft, tender skin, that can be eaten or peeled and several brown seeds or "pips" inside. Loquats are usually eaten fresh, on their own or in fruit salads. They are also frequently used for jams, chutneys and jellies or poached in syrup. High in Vitamin A, fiber, Vitamin B6 and other nutrients, they are used in Chinese medicine for both the respiratory and digestive systems. Loquats have no relation to the kumquat, or my recent find the limequat, other than the origin of their Chinese names. There is a great write up on them by David Karp on the Splendid Table site, here.
Taste-wise, they are sweet and mild, reminiscent of an apricot. They are a thin-skinned, fragile fruit with a short-shelf life so they are not a very commercial fruit and you are more likely to find them at farmer's markets or specialty food stores. I ate a couple of the loqauts, and they were sweet and good and very much like an apricot. With the remaining fruit, I decided to make some loquat "butter" from a recipe I found on the net at SparkRecipes here. I cut it down to about 1/4 based on the amount of fruit I had.
"A spread for biscuits or toast with a texture similar to apple butter, but a taste similar to apricots."
4 c pureed ripe loquats (remove seeds)
2 c sugar
1 c water
Prepare ripe loquats by removing seeds and pureeing. Place loquat puree in a sauce pan with water, and boil. Add 2 cups sugar and cook until thickened.
(Makes approximately 5 cups of jam, serving size is 2 tablespoons.)
Notes/Results: The loquat butter is good but very sweet and very mild. It tastes a lot like an apricot jam. I added a large pinch of cinnamon, which helped add a bit more interest to the flavor. Although it was good on a toasted crumpet, I like my spread and jams a bit more on the tart side. My Mom suggested I use it like an applesauce in a spice cake or bread so I will be looking for a recipe to use it in. Well worth a try, I liked the loquats and will buy them when I see them again.