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Cooking with Fruit: Loquats

by on June 19, 2010
 

Or Mispels according to the Dutch. Also known as Japanese medlar, not to be confused with that other sort of fruit, also called medlar, requiring rotting and bletting to reach edible status.

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It took me a year to find out what the English name for Mispels was. I first came across them in a market in the Hague and bought some. A few days later, stuck in my fridge, I couldn’t help but wonder how to eat them. When I opened them up, they reminded me of a Nigerian fruit Agbalumo, which we also call cherry. Also called Hog plum. Anyhow, I left a message on my market post asking for anyone who knew the name to let me know what it was. And someone did. In March this year. Someone called Brittan from The Suitcase Chef. Thank  you. You helped me fit that huge piece of a jigsaw, into a corner of my world – bringing stability, hope and joy.

This year, I got some more. About the same time I was doing all things Rhubarb. Glad I knew what it finally was, I went about reading all I could.

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I love this description at The Splendid Table because in a few sentences, it gives the reader all the information that is necessary to build a picture of what the fruit looks and tastes like.My comments are in {green}.

The loquat is a delectable but much neglected member of the pome family, which includes apples, pears, and quinces {I like the history}. Most look like a small apricot-colored pear, although they’re a bit more oval in shape{Describes what it looks like}. They range from one- to two-and-a-half inches long and have several glossy brown seeds in the center{Covers size and parts}. The thin skin is slightly downy, and the flesh, which can be deep orange, yellow, or creamy-white, varies in texture from the crispness of a firm cantaloupe to the juiciness of a ripe peach{Simple colour and taste description}. The flavor is a pleasant blend of apricot, plum, and cherry, with floral overtones, and is quite sweet when ripe{What it tastes like}. If you like peaches, apricots, and plums, you’ll love loquats{creates smell by association}. These half-brothers of kumquats, typically mature in April and May!

One can bite into a loquat like a plum{how to eat it}, but I prefer to tear off the stem and unzip the skin, which is edible but flavorless. Next, cut the fruit in half, flick out the seeds, and tear off the calyx (the little whorl at the base), and the interior membrane if it is tough. This sounds more complicated that it is, and the fillet of a prime loquat, resembling a half apricot, is an exquisite reward {photos of this half below, and I hadn’t read this article when I took the photos – glad the text matches them!}

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While this isn’t a class on how to write, it reminds me of what Jamie of Life’s a Feast said at FBC ’09 when she spoke on ‘Finding your voice’:

She encouraged us to use all your senses when talking about food, to describe it. What you see, how you see it (colours),  the accompanying sounds (splattering, sizzling), its smells. Has it got texture? What does it taste like?

That was one piece of advice which I’ve tried to use as a guide but I realise that is an area I have to work on, which calls on your strongest powers of observation! Anyhow, we learn daily.

Facts, not Fiction, with support from Wikipedia

Who: Cousin, not to the kumquat but to other members of the pome family – apples, quinces and pears, they are high in pectin and somewhat tart to taste!

Season: April to June

How to select: Ripe fruits tend to be soft

Storage: Refrigerated for up to 2 weeks

What to do: Can be eaten out of hand or made into jams and chutneys. Could also be used in bakes.

Where: Popular in China and other parts of Asia, where they are often used in medicine

Caveat:

  • Beware of the seeds which are slightly poisonous as they contain small amounts of cyanogenic glycosides (including amygdalin) which release cyanide when digested, though the low concentration and bitter flavour normally prevents enough being eaten to cause harm.

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  • If over-eaten, loquats have a gentle but noticeable sedative effect, with effects lasting up to 24 hours!
  • You might be a bit disappointed in the taste. They look interesting but….taste ‘ok’. And I say ok because I’ve had superbly crunchy and wine-flavoured apples and juicy, sweet pears but my loquats were ‘there’- somewhat tart but nothing gripping.

In my experiments, I made a loquat tian,…

IMG_4420…using some roasted loquats, baked with sugar and a bit of urfa biber. The aim was to soften and sweeten and spice, all at the same time. It worked a bit….but I can’t say it triumphed with bells and whistles.

IMG_4073Somehow, the fruit didn’t have the required amount of sweetness to balance the cookie and cream base – that was the key failing (and finding). It’s future in my kitchen will be different – I will have to give one of the many jam and jelly recipes out there a try.

IMG_4427Someday soon.

This is heading off to Weekend herb blogging #238, started by Kalyn , run by Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything at Least Once and this week hosted by Rachel from The Crispy Cook.

Have you tried loquats? Any recipes to share?

Have a blessed weekend.

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  • Laura
    April 4, 2015 at 12:53 AM

    I live in Florida and we have them everywhere. I guessed (thanks for confirmation) that they were related to pears, so looked up pear recipes. I made a classic poached pear in frangipane cream tart. I sized them in mini and standard muffin tins in pate sucree pastry, with bit of raspberry jam on bottom. We also had mulberries in season, so I included before baking. They were lovely. They were poached in champagne simple syrup with orange and lemon zest, star anise, cinnamon stic, and green cardamon pods. They are tedious and develop rot quickly, so was important to drop in syrup immediately and poach slowly.

    Now adding more pears and trying to make small fruit hand pies with more pear than loquat. Thinking I can use same simple syrup and thicken with corn starch. Wish me luck:)

    Reply

    • April 4, 2015 at 4:38 AM

      I’m so intrigued that Florida has such a wealth of fruit. I really should plan a spring-summer visit to benefit from this :)

      The poached version sounds lovely – champagne, cardamom, orange and lemon. Heaven. All the best with the hand pies. Let me know.

      Reply

  • April 22, 2014 at 6:32 PM

    I found your blog through googling “loquat recipes,” as we have a tree in our side yard that I think technically belongs to the city of Santa Monica . . . but I have been looking at that tree and its fruit for the past 5 years not knowing the fruit is pretty delicious, totally usable, and abundant hanging over my very own porch!!! I say this so happily because we do not own our house and the owners saw fit to fill everything except the front yard with concrete . . . so alas not much growing around us!!! Your blog is so wonderful, can’t wait to look around.

    Reply

  • Trae
    May 3, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    Wow I am also surprised to see that you didnt have the sweet ones right of the tree. I live in charleston sc and the trees always bear fruit at the end of april and first of may.They are all over downtown most people are not sure what they are. I love the when tey are ripe..I did notice in the pics one seed, most of them have up to three seeds in S.C.

    Reply

  • tess
    November 15, 2010 at 6:52 AM

    I live in Oz too. We get lots where I am located. Never know what to do with them all. Thought this year I will try making jam and stewing. But getting the stones etc out is a bit fiddly. Never like to waste lots of wild fruit though. I enjoyed reading your blog here :) thanks.

    Reply

  • Linda (Perth, West Oz)
    October 7, 2010 at 5:35 AM

    Loquat Trees are quite widespread in the southern and metropolitan area around Perth, but definitely undervalued as a beautiful fruit.
    If you are prepared to the fiddliness of preparing the fruit, Loquat Jam is wonderful. It also makes a fantastic couli for icecream and stewed/poached loquats are terrific stirred through creamed rice.

    Reply

  • katherine
    September 10, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    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 @
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nin_Jiom_Pei_Pa_Koa
    ninjiom.50webs.com

    Reply

  • June 28, 2010 at 1:20 AM

    I had no idea one could do anything with a loquat other than eat it right off the tree, which is what I grew up doing. I preferred Kumquats, quite frankly, but a loquat would do in a pinch. Thank you for posting a recipe!

    Reply

  • June 25, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    I am really surprised. I have had them -and more than once. We do not grow them here. They are imported and expensive… and tasteless. Every time I have had them, the texture is nice. The colour is nice. The flavour is so delicate and bland that I wonder what I bought them for. Every time.
    ? weird.
    Valerie

    Reply

  • June 22, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    I so love mispels. You can’t get them easily here in Belgium.

    I also love your tips info on them!!

    Your dessert looks stunning, dear Ozoz!

    Reply

  • June 22, 2010 at 3:25 AM

    This story is very familiar to mine. Your experience with Loquats is exactly the same as what I’ve experienced with Persimmons. I, too will have to give it another try. I also have never tried Loquats either.
    Thank you for your experience,
    Claudia

    Reply

  • June 21, 2010 at 11:54 PM

    The loquats we have around here are pretty sweet and very taste eaten out of hand. We see them often used in landscaping, mostly for their looks. We have them lining the shopping center parking lot. I have to watch myself not to pick them 😀

    Your dessert looks gorgeous! I too like to find out things that are different and I’ve never used before. This is fun! Maybe we can discover something new together.

    Reply

  • June 21, 2010 at 11:12 PM

    Thanks for your comments. I will be seeking out more loquats, seeing if I can find sweet, rather than sour ones!

    Reply

  • June 21, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    been seeing these fruits and got a recipe to try.. thanks!!

    Reply

  • June 21, 2010 at 5:17 PM

    This is new to me and I have never seen it in New York. Your dish looks delicious.

    Reply

  • June 21, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    Thanks for sending this very informative post over to Weekend Herb Blogging. Look for the roundup later today!

    Reply

  • June 21, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    I’ve heard of this fruit but we don’t have it available in my area, but if I see I will be sure to buy it now thanks to your lovely post.

    Reply

  • June 21, 2010 at 11:55 AM

    Now I finally know what this fruit I’ve been seeing at the Haagse Maarkt is! Thanks Oz
    Magda

    Reply

  • June 20, 2010 at 9:17 PM

    adore you love of trying news things so cool

    Reply

  • June 20, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    Oh, this is the first time for me to know the English name of Japanese ビワ(枇杷)! That’s really popular fruit in Japan as many households have the tree in their gardens. Well, we usually buy them in supermarkets, keep in a fridge to chill and eat on their own. Some are turned into jelly or light Japanese sweets. Your cake looks very good, which urges me to try :)

    Reply

  • June 20, 2010 at 8:18 AM

    This is a rather sweet fruit and I am surprised that you didn’t find it so.

    Reply

  • June 20, 2010 at 7:11 AM

    This dish is beautiful! I’ve never heard of loquats before, and I loved reading all the information you included on them. Isn’t the Splendid Table wonderful?

    Reply

  • June 20, 2010 at 5:19 AM

    I really like this idea! We don’t see much loquats here in Oz though :(

    Reply

  • June 20, 2010 at 4:41 AM

    What a blessed relief it is to find something you’d been missing and fill that void. What a creative looking recipe for the loquats,.

    Reply

  • June 20, 2010 at 1:31 AM

    I loved your post; I was just saddened by the fact that the loquats you had were not the loquats I am used to, which are incredibly sweet!!!
    This tian you made looks so dainty and elegant. I love the layer of cream next to it.
    I had my fill of loquats recently and was wishing I could do something else besides eating them and had I had your tian recipe in mind, I would have done so.

    Reply

    • June 21, 2010 at 11:10 PM

      I’ll have to try them again – I haven’t given up. I didn’t think they were supposed to be sweet so I’m glad and I will give them another chance. Thanks

      Reply

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