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Loquats grow on trees in clusters of 4-30. They can be smooth or fuzzy, yellow to yellow-orange, and round, oval, or pear-shaped. The flesh texture of a Loquat is smooth and firm, similar to an apricot, with a moderately thick skin reminiscent to a peach. The juicy Loquats flavor starts with a slightly sour and tannic forward and mellows into a lightly sweet and delicate grape finish.
Loquats peak season is mid-winter into spring.
The Loquat, botanically known as Eriobotrya japonica, is also commonly known as the Japanese plum. Loquats are a member of the Rosaceae family, also known as the rose family, along with apples, strawberries and pears. One name for the Loquat in Chinese is pipa, which means lute, the musical instrument that resembles the shape of the Loquat cluster.
Loquats are a source of calcium, potassium, fiber and vitamin A. They are used in Chinese medicine for digestive and respiratory issues. The seeds contain amygdalin, which is used as the cancer drug laetrile. The seeds also contain toxic cyanide compounds.
Loquats can be used in any recipe that calls for stone fruits like peaches, apricots, or plums. Loquats are high in pectin and make delicious jellies, jams and compotes. They can be pickled and make good salsas and chutneys. The Loquat can be used in sauces for either savory or sweet items, such as meats or ice cream.
Loquat fruit is used in making plum wine. Loquat tree wood has been used in place of pear tree wood in the making of rulers. The fragrant Loquat blossom was considered for use in perfume oils in France, but the small yield did not warrant commercial production. Loquat leaf is dried for use as an herbal tea known as biwa-cha in Japan. Loquats are used in Mexico to celebrate Day of the Dead as offerings and ornaments on the altars.
The Loquat is native to China and is featured in Chinese folklore. It is said that only royalty were permitted to eat the Loquat, as it was believed that the fruit falling into the rivers strengthened the koi to swim up waterfalls and become dragons. Loquats have been in Japan for over a thousand years, and law books from the early 900s described how to properly offer the Loquat to Shinto gods. The Loquat was brought to the west in 1690 and soon made its way to warm climates around the world, including the Middle East, India, Spain, South America, South Africa, and Mexico. In the United States, Loquat trees grow in Southern states, but generally produce fruit only in Hawaii, California and Florida. Currently, Japan is among the largest producers of Loquats. It is an ingredient in many dishes in Japan and is often the featured topic on Japanese tv cooking shows.
Recipes that include Loquats. One is easiest, three is harder.
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People have spotted Loquats using the Specialty Produce app for iPhone and Android.
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