Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Farmer's Market Find: Loquats and Loquat Jam

Every week I go to the KCC Farmer's Market "Tip Sheet" and check out who and most importantly what is going to be at the market that week. The main reason for this is that although the market runs from 7:30-11:00 AM, it fills up and sells out of the good stuff quickly so I usually try to get there before the buzzer sounds at 7:30 and knowing that there may be something special there makes it easier to get my lazy you-know-what out of bed early. (Not always an easy task on a Saturday morning...really any morning!) Not everything new or special makes it on the tip sheet, but it is a start and helpful in my quest to try as many local fruits and vegetables as I can. The tip sheet for the Saturday before last listed "biwa" from Hashimoto Farms at the Made in Hawaii Booth. I had no idea what biwa was so I did a little research on the web. I narrowed it down to either a short-necked Japanese musical instrument or a lake in Central Japan but neither seemed likely to be sold at the market. Finally by looking up the name of the farm, I figured out that a biwa is actually a loquat. At least I had heard of loquats before but I wasn't very familiar with them and had never eaten them. I bought about a dozen or so to take home and try. 

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.

Loquat Butter
by SparkRecipes

"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. 


  1. Yum, these sound good...something I'd never find at my Farmer's market. Love the idea of substituting in a recipe in place of applesauce!

  2. That does sound good! Maybe a squeeze of lemon or a bit of tamarind pulp would give you the tartness you like in it?
    Buying a Japanese lake at the farmer's market reminds me of Trout Fishing in America, where he finds a man selling trout streams by the yard.
    I love the specialty fruit that you can find down there, what a treat!

  3. My husband loves loquats. Some people have trees here in California, but I don't think I've ever seen them for sale before.

  4. Thanks for info on the fruit! Although I would never be able to find it here (maybe at whole foods at some point in my life if I'm lucky...or I'll just have to go to Hawaii). I am so in the mood for fruity spreads lately, this looks great! I may try it using apricots instead.

  5. This sounds so good. Have you tried using lemon zest and juice to spark it up a bit?

  6. My mom is lucky as her neighbor has a loquat/biwa tree and they don't like to eat the fruit. She has full access to whatever the tree bears...This butter sounds delicious :)

  7. Oh do those look good. I have never had one before....I would love to try one sometime!

  8. I love these loquats. I don't think I've ever seen them before - they look alot like apricots.

  9. Ive been hearing a lot about loquats lately... wish I could find them here!

  10. You find the coolest fruits and vegetables - I have to live vicariously through you. Loquats sounds really delicious -- love the loquat butter!

  11. That sounds good. I have had loquat jam, but never made it myself (or eaten a fresh one). Maybe a squeeze of lemon in the next batch?

  12. Loquat is for cough and lung in Chinese medicine. Sometimes i would take the Ninjiom Pei Pa Koa (a famous loquat syrup) when got scratchy throat.

    You can access info online @

  13. The house I bought in Houston, Texas had a Loquat tree in the back yard with a King Sago Palm planted under it. The palm was one of the most beautiful sago palms I have ever seen and the fruit from the tree was a favorite treat of my grandchildren. I later learned that the fruit from the Loquat is a perfect fertilizer for the palm. The Loquat seems to thrive in SouthEast Texas.

  14. do you know anyone who sells loquat jam? im disabled and have no access to the fruit andwould love to buy some jam

  15. I moved into a house here in So. Cal. with 3 loquat trees, all full of ripe fruit. Trying to figure out what to do with it all!


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