Ah, loquats. They are tangy, slightly sweet, and hugely versatile. Yet, most people have never heard of them and many more don't know what to do with them. Every year millions of neglected loquats are eaten by birds and squirrels rather than human beings. I like birds and squirrels well enough, and I recognize that they have to eat too, but let's not forget our place at the top of the food chain. Besides, if you put any sort of value on eating seasonally, locally, and/or organically, well, there are trees full of fruit just a' waitin' for the picking.
If you are lucky enough to have a loquat tree and are wondering what in the heck to do with them (aside from just eating them straight off the tree), I can offer a few suggestions. If you are not lucky enough to have a loquat tree but smart enough to talk a friend or neighbor into letting you have some from their tree, I have a few suggestions for you as well. (If you don't have access to loquats at all, you are just out of luck in this case.) Pick a cookbook category from appetizers, drinks, salads, main dishes, to desserts, and there is a way to incorporate loquats. Right on that line between sweet and tart, they have a highly adaptable flavor. I've spent two seasons now just doing some playful experimentation, and I've gotten quite a few pleasing results that are good enough to share. Links to all my recipes, plus more, are included at the bottom of this post.
I can also offer a few tips I've picked up from working with them:
- Harvest them when they are yellow (but no longer have a greenish tint). Once they start turning orange, they are over-ripening and will begin to become less flavorful. They're still good. By all means, if you've got orange ones do not let those babies go to waste. Ideally just try to pick and use them while they are still yellow. To harvest them simply pick the fruit directly from the stem, no need for clippers.
- Use them within a week of picking them. They'll start browning fairly quickly, and they'll still be okay for preserving in some way, but they won't be as pretty. And you risk letting them go bad or become infested with fruit flies.That's a sad thing. Store them in the refrigerator if you won't use them for several days or if they are beginning to brown.
- To skin or not to skin? I don't. I did once. Never again. Serious pain in the booty and you lose a ton of the flesh in the process. And really there's no reason to. The skin is thin enough that it just becomes part of the texture of jams and chutneys, and for jelly you'll be using the juice anyhow. So unless you are a glutton for self-punishment, skip it.
- The seed comprises about half of the fruit (imagine that whatever the weight of your batch of unseeded fruit is, the seeded equivalent will be roughly half of that). The easiest way to remove the seeds is to cut the tips off near the stem and base (being careful only to cut the very ends), then cut them lengthwise. You should then be able to just pop the two halves off of the seeds. Oh, and about those seeds, they are poisonous. Something about cyanide. Unless you are a cult leader in Guiana or you hate trick-or-treaters, toss them. Or, better yet, use them to make a liqeur, which you can apparently safely do without poisoning anyone.
- Prepping unblanched loquats may leave a certain scent on your fingers... a certain scent that smells like a substance some say smells like bleach... I'll allow you to connect the dots. Even after a vigorous scrubbing with a reliable soap, I was still getting a faint whiff of that certain scent. The first time it happened it totally freaked me out because I certainly had not been [fill in the blank with applicable activities] any time recently. Then it dawned on me... ohhhhhhhhh. The loquats. So, just fyi. Blanching them seems to alleviate this issue.
- Blanching them makes them release the juices and fragrance. There are a few recipes here and there that call for them to be blanched but most of the time it's not a necessary step. I've started blanching some and keeping them in an airtight container in the fridge to have on hand for things like Loquat Mojitos, because you never know when you are going to need one. Instructions for blanching them are below and are adaptable to any amount of loquats.
- lemons (1 per pound of loquats)
Here are my loquat recipes currently found on this site:
This was one of those magical kitchen moments when you throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and ask, "What happens if I do this?" Then the answer is: something freaking kick-ass happens. This is unquestionably one of my top personal favorite recipes. It's great served with a curry or with cheese (I like it with brie). Note: link is the same as for the Pan-Seared Tuna recipe below.
Pan-Seared Tuna Over Arugula with Loquat Salsa
This tuna recipe is light, easy to throw together, and has a short cooking time for hot days. It's pretty and tasty enough to serve to impress, and the salsa is good on its own with chips. Note: link is the same as for the chutney recipe above.
Loquat Green Smoothie
Made in honor of deceased Austin Food Blogger Alliance member, Allen Stern (of Let's Talk Fitness), who was our green smoothie guru and an inspiration in general, this was my first green smoothie ever. I've since become addicted and have been drinking some variation of this every morning. I can feel the difference in my energy levels for sure.
Loquat BBQ Sauce
This was another happy experiment. I figured if I could successfully make peach BBQ sauce, then why not loquats? The result was tangy and lovely and really great with smoked pork. The recipe makes enough for storing and for sharing.
The only reason to buy salad dressing from the store is sheer laziness (and I know because sometimes I am lazy). But homemade is so much fresher-tasting and does not have a bunch of icky, unnecessary ingredients. This one is tangy and slightly sweet.
The loquats blend nicely with the lime in this otherwise traditional mojito recipe. It's easy, refreshing, and yo... mojitos!
Braised Chicken with Loquats
This recipe conjures Norman Rockwell cozy images of a house filled with a wonderful aroma while everyone within smelling range chomps at the bits for supper to be ready. Yes, loquats can be a comfort food too.
Fish Tacos with Kohlrabi and Loquat Slaw
Light, quick, easy, healthy, and a great way to make use of seasonal produce to boot.
Confit of Strawberries and Loquats with Mint
A light, pretty dessert worthy of a dinner party. The sweetness of the fruit and simple syrup is balanced by the creme fraiche.
Insanely easy, and a great way to supply your pantry with some tasty jam for year-round.
I finally made kolaches (a type of Czech pastry)! This has been a goal for a long, long time. Made for the Austin Bakes for West fundraiser, I wanted to honor their Czech heritage. The loquat filling turned out to be really nice and reminiscent of the traditional apricot filling.
Ginger-Lime Chicken & Loquat Skewers
Easy to throw together and a nice blend of flavors. Grab a summer beer and fire up the grill!
Below are some other recipes I have either in the idea or experimentation stage. Depending on how they turn out, I'll update this page with links to recipes.
I did make some of these, but there is a two-month waiting period while the alcohol does its thing. I have visions of having these alongside vanilla ice cream, pound cake, or some Thai sweet rice.
Homemade Chicken & Loquat Sausage
Apart from loquats, sausages are another of my favorite things to experiment with (and eat). I'm still a novice in this category, and this one is still in the idea stage. I'm been meaning to try my hand at chicken sausages because I have not tackled that meat yet, and well, I've got these loquats, see? (See my other sausage-related posts here.)
Loquat-Chicken Salad with Almonds
I haven't tried making this yet, but it sounds really good to me. I imagine I'll use this Mango Chicken Salad recipe as a base.
Homemade Loquat Pop-Tarts
This seems like a plausible way to get my kids to eat some loquats. You'd think.
More loquat cocktails
I mean, why not? As the song says, it's 5 o'clock somewhere.
Check these other recipes using loquats from some of my fellow Austin Food Blogger Alliance members:
- Slow-Cooker Loquat Butter from For the Love of Chow
- Loquat Preserves, Loquat Butter, Loquat Leather, and Loquat Syrup from Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking
- Loquat Red Onion Rabbit from Midnite Chef
- Lavender Loquat Jelly from The Seasonal Plate
- Loquat Pico de Gallo and Loquat Shrub from Addie Broyles of Relish Austin
- Loquat & Strawberry Yogurt Popsicles from Stetted
Pinterest board dedicated to loquat recipes (my own and others) for collecting ideas and keeping track of links. If you have any loquat recipes you would like to share, please post them in the comments below. I am always looking for more inspiration!