Roxy gets walked three times a day – more or less – so there is lots of opportunity to look at what is flowering and fruiting at different times of year. Citrus season has just passed and at the moment the air smells of jasmine and magnolia. Scrumping (the removal of fruits overhanging fences – or stealing!) starts now too with the ripening of Loquats. Later in the year there will be native guavas – yum, yum, yum. But first to the loquat.
The loquat is indigenous to south-eastern China and possibly southern Japan. It may have been introduced into Japan in very early times – it is said to have been cultivated there for over 1,000 years.
The loquat is a plant with high medicinal value and different parts have been used historically as folk medicines for thousands of years says the International Journal of Molecular Science in their article Biological Activities of Extracts from Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica Lindl.): A Review. Loquat extracts have been used for the treatment of cough, chronic bronchitis (CB), inflammation, diabetes, and cancer in Chinese folk medicine. Edible NZ tells us that the fruits are high in vitamin A (but poor in vitamin C) and they have good levels of potassium. Half Your Plate also notes that they contain copper, folacin, Vitamin B6 and magnesium.
The loquat tree is an evergreen with large, stiff leaves. It is one of the few sub-tropical fruit species within the rose family. To be accurate it belongs to Eriobotrya Rosaceae and is E.Japonica, or Loquat. It bears large panicles of white flowers from autumn to winter which in spring turn to spherical pear shaped, edible orange-yellow fruit which can be up to 4cm across. Reflecting its origins it is sometimes known as the Chinese or Japanese plum or Japanese medlar. In Italian it can be called the nespolo (del Giappone) and in Spanish the nispero.
But mainly, I think, loquats are just delicious to eat straight from the tree. Pick, bite off the top of the head, suck out the large pips and discard, then eat. Sweet, but low in sugar, sharp and juicy, they make any walk more interesting and satisfying.
If you have your own loquat tree(s) or just want to know how to prepare them then look no further than The Tapas Lunch Co. They interviewed Nevenka from her farm in Spain. She is a big fan of the Loquat/Nispero and said this about the preparation:
“When you pick the fruit, cut the stems rather than break off the fruit as any wound to the fruit will discolour quite quickly. Wash the fruit. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and then gently put in the Loquat/Nispero a few at a time. If you have a lot cook them in batches so that they come back to the boil fairly rapidly. Bring back to the boil and simmer for five minutes to cook them through to their cores. If they are very large cook an extra minute to be on the safe side. Take the fruit out of the water and put into plenty of cold water to cool them down rapidly and stop them continuing to cook. When cool enough, peel them, cut in halves and remove the stems, stones and the inner membrane. They are then ready to use or freeze. They can then be defrosted as needed to use in desserts and sauces or just eaten as they are. “
Personally, I think life is too short to peel a loquat, but go for it if you want to. Me, I am off to ‘walk Roxy’, and enjoy a mid-morning treat.
Our recipes this week come, with thanks, from The Old Foodie website.
For Loquat Foam (A Quick Dessert.)
Whip the whites of five eggs to a stiff froth; sweeten with two cupfuls of powdered sugar and stir in gradually one cupful of loquat jelly. Serve in sherbet glasses with a teaspoonful of whipped cream on the top of each. A sprinkling of ground nuts added at the last, gives a delicious flavor.
Beat the yolks of four eggs until light; add five tablespoonfuls of granulated sugar, and one cupful of loquat juice. Cook all together, stirring constantly till thick. Remove from the fire, stir in the whites which have been whipped to a stiff snow and sweetened. When cold, serve immediately in custard cups.
For Loquat Dumplings.
Make a crust the same as for apple dumplings: roll out and cut into oblong pieces; put two tablespoonfuls of seeded loquats in the centre of each. Add one tablespoonful of sugar and enclose in the paste. Lay upon a floured baking pan, with joined edges downward and bake about forty minutes. To be served with sweetened cream, or with a hot sweet sauce.
Eat and Enjoy. The photos this week come from my walks with Roxy.