Fruits of Labor
In 2007, we tore up the grass in the majority of our front yard (it is sort of massive) and did a major landscaping project. We added in traffic areas, seating areas, a dry creek bed to divert water that had been flooding the path into the house, and plenty of planting areas. The goal was not just to make it more functional and attractive, but to xeriscape it to reduce water usage and get rid of the need to mow that area. Plants were carefully selected and arranged, and we used as many perenial, drought-tolerant edibles as possible. I wanted to have a tree that would be a centerpiece and would provide some screening from the street year-round. I selected a loquat tree, and really, I could not have chosen better. It is a gorgeous tree and it has fulfilled my hope that it would block the views and street lights from the front of the house. It was about 1-foot tall when it went into the ground. Now it's about 8. But this is the first year it has produced fruit. I have been so eager for it, and watched it bloom in years past, but nothing.
Finally, a couple of months ago, it went crazy with blooms. And then... the bees showed up, and I knew we were in business! Sure enough, I have had a banner crop this year, just like pretty much everyone else with a loquat tree. This has been a great year for them.
In round 1 of harvesting I swapped quite a few, ate some plain, and I still had tons left to experiment with. I made a salsa (similar to a peach salsa) and served that with pan-seared tuna... which is one of the best meals I have made in a while. I decided to by-pass the preserves since my mom and some friends were also canning with them (and I was hoping to get some of theirs!), so I made some chutney instead, which just turned out lovely, lovely, lovely. I have big plans for using it in place of mango chutney in this Bhindi Masala recipe once okra season rolls around, but I also think it will go well with some chicken... maybe a satay.
|These guys are slightly over-ripened. They really should be picked when yellow, right after the green has disappeared and before they begin to turn orange. But don't sweat it if they go this long, they are still tasty!|
And later still...
adapted from this recipe
Yield: 2 Cups
- 1 1/2 C loquats, seeded & membranes removed, diced
- 1/2 C diced red onion
- 1 large or 2 small jalapenos, seeded & membranes removed, finely diced
- zest and juice from 1 lime
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 1 T honey
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir well to combine.
- Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Pan-Seared Tuna over Arugula with Loquat Salsa
inspired by this recipe from Chef Eddie Villareal of Hyde Park Grill for a PEAs Farm cooking demonstration
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 ahi (a.k.a. bigeye) tuna steaks, about 1" thick and 6 oz. each
- sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
- 6 C loosely packed arugula
- Balsamic vinegar
- 2 C (1 recipe) Loquat Salsa
- Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat.
- Place equal amounts of arugula onto 4 plates and set aside. Sprinkle both sides of the tuna steaks with salt and pepper.
- Once the skillet is smoking, add the tuna steaks (cook in batches if both will not fit in the pan), and cook on each side for about 1 minute or until each side is cooked through about 1/4"... you will be able to see this from the side of the steaks.
- When the steaks are cooked on both sides with the middle still pink, remove to a plate. Allow them to rest while you drizzle Balsamic vinegar over the arugula.
- Slice the steaks into about 1/2" slices along the bias, then distribute evenly across the 4 plates.
- Top each with a generous dollop, about 1/2 C each, of the salsa and serve.
adapted from this recipe
Yield: 10 half-pint jars
- 3 dried guallio chiles
- 3 1/2 lb (10 C) loquats, seeded & membranes removed, halved
- about 10" ginger (break off the large "arms" of the ginger and include them in the overall 10"; it doesn't have to be exact), peeled, and cut into small cubes, about 1/8"
- 1/4 C mustard seed
- 1 1/2 C spring onions, cut into thin rings
- 12 C sugar
- 6 C apple cider vinegar
- Cut the stem ends off of the chiles, and shake to remove seeds (you may have to cut out any large pieces of membrane inside). Place in a bowl.
- Bring some water to boil, then pour over the chiles. Let sit for at least 5 minutes to soften.
- Remove the chiles to a blender or mini-food processor and add 3 T of the soaking water. Pulse until a paste is formed.
- Place the paste and all remaining ingredients in a large stock pot and stir well.
- Bring to a boil then simmer uncovered for about 1 1/2 hours or until the fruit is well broken-down and most of the liquid has evaporated and been absorbed.
- Divide into sterilized half-pint jars. Screw on the sterilized lids as tightly as possible, then set aside and wait for the fun popping sound to begin!
And this was only round 1... there is still more fruit to harvest as it ripens!
See my loquat recipe round-up here.