Ingredient Spotlight: Loquats
Loquats are a subtropical fruit that originated in Southern China, but now grow worldwide. They grow particularly well here in San Francisco, where they’re planted as ornamental trees. Loquat trees yield many clusters of small, golfball-sized fruit that is often yellowish-orange in color, sometimes with a red flush. Although they share a name similarity with kumquats, they have nothing in common botanically with kumquats; they are actually distant cousins of apples.
Loquats are members of the pome family, which includes apples, pears, and quince. The flesh of a loquat fruit ranges from white to yellow to orange and is a combination of tangy and sweet. It’s been said that they taste like a combination of peach, plum, and cherry. The fruit is ready to eat when soft. Loquats can have anywhere from three to five brown seeds in them. Like apples, loquats have a high pectin content.
Loquats can be used to make pies, jams, wine, chutney, and syrup. In Chinese medicine, loquat syrup is used to soothe coughs. Loquats can be eaten raw and are a good addition to fruit salads. They can also be poached and stewed. The skin and flesh are edible, but do not eat the seeds – they are toxic. Bruising on the fruit is fine.
(Image: Kathryn Hill)