first loquats of the season

ripe loquats
loquats in a cluster on the tree

when we first moved to our current place, none of my neighbors had plants outside, and all the landscaping was meticulously cut into round topiary shapes, so closely that flowering plants no longer flowered, and the 2 loquat trees bordering my patio no longer bore fruit. finally, one day, one of my neighbors said “um, hey, quit cutting the trees!” and after 3 years of rehabilitation, we have full loads of loquats ripening on 2 trees. this is going to easily double what we can eat off the land here in springtime.

picked loquats
fresh-picked loquats

i grew up with a loquat tree, so i am totally thrilled about this. while i agree with most assertions that eating them fresh while standing in the yard is the best way to enjoy them, anyone who has these trees knows there’s only so much you can do of that, as the yield is too copious to keep up with. i’ve been looking for all the things i can do with them for LAist and came up with some pretty great projects, including loquat wine, loquat-infused brandy, and homemade italian loquat seed liquor. in the meantime, i just tried the very first firm fruits, and found they were already quite sweet, so i got to work picking what i could, and put up a jar in the freezer.

slicing loquats
slicing loquats lengthwise

to prepare loquats for use, start by slicing around the fruit lengthwise. i like to start at the flower-bud end, because it’s often hard to slice, but easier to cut out afterwards. roll your knife around the fruit, meeting the starting cut, and twist the 2 halves apart as you might with an apricot or peach.

halved loquat
a loquat, sliced around the seeds lengthwise

once halved, you can simply pinch the seed membrane in the empty half with your fingernails, and peel it out [this isn’t critical, as the membrane is both harmless and edible]. then pop out the seeds from the other half, peel out the other membrane and then chop as needed. there are all kinds of recipes asking for blanching and peeling, which i find entirely pointless. in general, i think peeling fruits and veggies when the peel is inconsequential to the texture is a total waste of time, and only contributes to food waste. and pettiness! there, i said it.

oh—and if you ever wondered what the relation is to kumquats? it’s in name only. they both have names deriving from their old cantonese names, so they sound the same while being totally unrelated. there ya go!

loquat ginger chutney
loquat ginger chutney

after researching a few chutnies, i altered a recipe i liked and will be making a good quantity of it for the next LA food swap, among other things. it’s delicious, with a satisfying ginger-mustard spice. then, it’s down to the home brew supply to see about this loquat wine idea.

Loquat Ginger Chutney
1 TB canola oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp curry powder
10 loquats, peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs fresh ginger root, minced
1 fresh serrano pepper, minced
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the onion, and garlic and sauté until tender. Add the cumin, mustard, and curry powder, sauté another minute.

Add the loquats and toss to mix through, 1 minute. Add the vinegar, serrano pepper, ginger and salt, and simmer on medium heat about 30 minutes until reduced to a thick sauce.

Store in a jar in the refrigerator, or let cool for use in your next meal.

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