- 5 lb. ripe loquats
- 1 cup water *
- ½ – ¾ cup lemon juice
- 1 package pectin
- 5 ½ cups sugar
- Gather loquats when full size, but still hard and only partially turned in color. Wash, remove seeds and blossom ends. Barely cover with cold water. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. Cook slowly until pulp is very soft. Strain pulp through jelly bag and collect juice. Measure 3 ¼ – 3 ½ cups loquat juice and lemon juice in a large kettle (making a total of 4 cups of juice).
- (* If more juice is needed, fill the last cup or fraction of a cup with water).
- Add pectin. Stir well. Place over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
- Add the sugar and mix well. Continue stirring and bring to a full, rolling boil. Boil exactly 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let boiling subside.
- Skim foam if necessary. Pour into hot sterilized jelly jars, leaving ½ inch space at top and seal with sterilized lids.
About Loquats: The Loquat, Eriobotrya japonica, is a fruit tree in the family Rosaceae, indigenous to central China (Chongqing and Hubei province). It was formerly thought to be closely related to the genus Mespilus, and is still sometimes known as the Japanese medlar. It is also known as Japanese plum and as Chinese plum. Although kumquats (cumquats) are not closely related botanically to loquats, the two names share an origin in their old Chinese (Cantonese) names. Eriobotrya japonica is an evergreen large shrub or small tree, with a rounded crown, short trunk and woolly new twigs. The tree can grow to 5–10 meters tall, but is often smaller, about 3–4 meters. The leaves are alternate, simple, 10–25 cm long, dark green, tough and leathery in texture, with a serrated margin, and densely velvety-hairy below with thick yellow-brown pubescence; the young leaves are also densely pubescent above, but this soon rubs off. Loquats are unusual among fruit trees in that the flowers appear in the autumn or early winter, and the fruits are ripe in late winter or early spring. The flowers are 2 cm diameter, white, with five petals, and produced in stiff panicles of three to ten flowers. The flowers have a sweet, heady aroma that can be smelled from a distance. Loquat fruits, growing in clusters, are oval, rounded or pear-shaped, 3–5 cm long, with a smooth or downy, yellow or orange, sometimes red-blushed skin. The succulent, tangy flesh is white, yellow or orange and sweet to subacid or acid, depending on the cultivar. Each fruit contains five ovules, of which one to five mature into large brown seeds. The skin, though thin, can be peeled off manually if the fruit is ripe. The fruits are the sweetest when soft and orange. The flavor is a mix of peach, citrus and mild mango.
Culinary uses: The Loquat is comparable with its distant relative, the apple, in many aspects, with a high sugar, acid and pectin content. It is eaten as a fresh fruit and mixes well with other fruits in fresh fruit salads or fruit cups. Firm, slightly immature fruits are best for making pies or tarts. The fruits are also commonly used to make jam, jelly, and chutney, and are often served poached in light syrup. In Japan, it is eaten fresh or sometimes canned because the flesh is sweet. However, the waste ratio is 30% or more, due to the size of the seed. Among other things, it is processed to confectionery including jellies and the jam. Loquats can also be used to make light wine. It is fermented into a fruit wine, sometimes using just the crystal sugar and white liquor. Lemon or lemon zest is often paired with the wine because the fruit has very low acidity. Aficionados also enjoy a sake made exclusively from the seed, which has an aroma much like apricot kernel. Due to the presence of cyanogenic glycosides, bulk consumption may pose a risk of cyanide poisonings.
Cultivation: The Loquat is easy to grow in subtropical to mild temperate climates where it is often grown as an ornamental tree, and second for its delicious fruit. The boldly textured foliage adds a tropical look to gardens, contrasting well with many other plants. There are many named cultivars, with orange or white flesh. Some cultivars are intended for home-growing, where the flowers open gradually, and thus the fruit also ripens gradually, compared to the commercially grown species where the flowers open almost simultaneously, and the whole tree’s fruit also ripens together. Japan is the leading producer of loquats followed by Israel and then Brazil.