We co-habitate with a wonderful hearty loquat tree that lives at the edge of our 1/2 acre lot along one of our neighborhood’s busiest streets. About three years ago I began harvesting the fruit annually for a simple loquat preserves recipe I like to make with my kids. Jump to the bottom if you want to get right to it!
There is something that is delightfully enticing about finding food in your own yard – especially food that is offered by nature without any effort or coercion – and turning it into a routine to look forward to seasonally. My now 7 year old daughter is always my buddy when it comes time to harvest loquat, and we all get excited when we see the tree limbs start to become weighed down with fruit in April.
Before we moved to this property, I was familiar with the name, but really didn’t know what a loquat even was. In case some of you are in the same boat, here are a few fun facts about this tangy treasure.
What is a loquat?
Loquats are tart and juicy orange fruits with a glossy brown seed. Their flavor and texture reminds me of a cross between a citrus fruit, a peach and a fig. Native to China, loquat trees are evergreen with large, stiff leaves, and well-adapted to virtually all soils. They begin to bear fruit within 2 to 3 years. Loquats were cultivated in Japan for over 1,000 years, and are thought to have arrived from China during the Tang Dynasty. It is believed that Chinese immigrants also carried the loquat to Hawaii, which eventually allowed this tangy fruit to make its way and now thrive in the warmer states today, like Texas, Florida, Hawaii, California, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. Loquat flowers appear in the autumn or early winter, and the fruits are ripe at any time from early spring to early summer. 
I love the idea of using food as medicine, and was interested to learn that tea made from loquat leaves is used for medicinal purposes in Asia. “Besides containing large concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, loquat leaves also also contain amygdalin which is believed to help repair liver damage/increase liver functioning. For diabetics, loquats leaves contain triterpens (tormentic acid) and assorted polysaccharides, both of which may stimulate insulin production which is beneficial for diabetics. Leaves and creams made from the leaves were placed on skin cancers and loquat leaf tea was used to fight internal cancer.”  The leaves are also used for soothing sore throats and inflamed skin, digestive and respiratory systems. 
Loquats are rich in insoluble dietary fiber, pectin, and also a good source of iron, copper, calcium, vitamin A, potassium, and manganese. Fresh loquat fruit provides potassium and some B complex vitamins such as folates, B6 and niacin and small amounts of vitamin C. 
There are an endless variety of creative loquat recipes online. I’ve only played with preserves to date, but let me know if you’ve tried others.
EASY LOQUAT PRESERVES
- 4-5 cups of loquats with seeds removed
- Sweetener of your choice (I’ve used sugar, coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup)
- Juice of one lemon (sometimes I also put thin slices of the entire lemon, including the peel)
Discard seeds and almost cover loquats with filtered water. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer around 40 minutes. The fruit will begin to break down and soften. Strain the water into a cup to use later and discard any lemon rind.
Add a few tsps of boiled syrup water back to the fruit for blending purposes (less if using maple syrup as your sweetener). Pulse in a food processor until the preferred texture is reached.
Put back in pot and stir in desired amount of sweetener, lemon juice and mix well until everything is well combined or dissolved.
If a thicker consistency is desired, allow it to simmer longer to remove excess liquid and test with a spoon periodically.
Fill clean jelly jars and cover with lid. Give jars a bath in low boiling water for 10 minutes and cool on a towel, occasionally tightening jar lids as they rest until they can go no further. Make sure all of the lid tops can no longer “pop” to ensure they properly sealed. If they seal properly, they can last up to a year in the pantry. If not, they’ll last about a week in the refrigerator.
They make pretty little gifts, and are a fun spring ritual at our house. If you don’t have loquat in your own yard, keep your eye out at parks, along creeks and rivers in public spaces.
Have you ever made any loquat recipes at your house? Please share and let me know your favorites so I can try something new!
So why make stuff that is often easier and cheaper to buy? I like to do projects like this because, for me, making stuff is just plain fun – at times even meditative. But equally as important to me is the fact that there are often far fewer chemicals in things that are homemade. I also tend to appreciate the things I take time to bring to life by hand more than anything I quickly purchase on impulse.
Humans are wired to create. I find it interesting that when I take time to make things, I am more deeply satisfied with how I have spent my day. Additionally I also love the bonus of community-building that can occur when I share or trade the things I make with others.
Try making something this week, however simple, and see if it doesn’t enrich your life too!