Driving around Austin during the past couple of weeks I have seen hundreds of loquat trees, Eriobotrya japonica, loaded with ripe fruit. Here the trees are mostly planted as an ornamental, in part due to their tropical looking foliage. The fruit, however, is delicious.
Loquats are originally from China and are distantly related to apples. My friend Bianca says that growing up in San Antonio, they referred to loquats as ‘Chinese plums’. I find the flesh similar in texture to a plum but both tarter and sweeter at the same time.
My own loquat tree is only a couple of years old and is not producing fruit yet. A friend was more than happy to let me pick a shopping bag full from his backyard tree. The fruit is tasty raw, but does not keep long, so I decided to cook most of it down.
I blanched the fruit for thirty seconds to make the skin easier to peel. Using a paring knife, I cut off the end of the fruit as well as any bad spots. After peeling all of the fruit I then picked out the large seeds. They are easy to remove, but make up almost half of the fruit. I cooked the fruit down with enough sugar to make a thick sauce. For the amount of fruit that I had, I used a half a cup, which made the batch a little too sweet. By the end of the process my bag of fruit had shrunk to a cup and a half of preserves.
Use the preserves as a sweet topping or to flavor your own homemade ice cream.