loquat lovin' in the summertime

Wherever I go lately, it's loquats loquats loquats!  The word has been floating around the blogosphere for some time, then I started seeing it on local menus...so when a friend posted about having more loquats than she knew what to do with, I jumped on the opportunity to get my hands on them!

Don't know what a loquat is?  Don't worry, neither did I until I moved to Texas.  Also known as Japanese plums, they are originally from China but grow wildly all over central Texas in the late spring/summer.  They do look like a mix between an apricot and a plum, and I expected them to taste very sour for some reason.  However, they taste more like a mango/apricot mix with a slight hint of citrus. 

While they can be eaten right off the tree, that would be waaay too easy.  I had big plans for mine!  I'd seen several loquat recipes on the Hip Girls Guide to Homemaking blog.  Unfortunately, all the jam and preserves recipes called for a food mill.  While I've made my fair share of jam and preserves without one, I can see why it's necessary for these because of the pesky skins on each one.  The alternative would be skinning each one individually, and probably losing a lot of fruit in the meantime.

So I decided to go with loquat syrup! 

Loquat Syrup

1. Take however many loquats you have on hand, halve them and remove the seeds-- the seeds are pretty crazy! Check them out.. they make up most of the fruit and have this brown metallic thing goin' on:

2. Place halves in a sauce pot or pan big enough to contain them. Add filtered water to just below where the loquats come up in the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a med, enough to keep the boil, but not scorch the bottom. After 10 min or so use a potato masher and smash down your loquats. Boil for another 5-10 min, then remove from heat.

3. Mash fruit one more time and then strain solids from the liquid. Measure how much liquid you have and multiply it by .75. That’s how much sugar you should add.

4. Melt the sugar in the loquat juice over med-low heat and then raise heat to med-high to bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Will keep in the fridge for about a week, freeze cubes of your syrup if you’d like for future bevs or projects.

Loquat margaritas, here I come!

After the syrup was done, I looked at my big ol' bowl of loquat seeds.  I looked up how to plant loquats.  Apparently they take about 10 years to produce fruit and sound kind of tricky to plant.  So I merely scattered the seeds in the yard, against a fence.  We'll see what happens.

I also saw that someone posted this recipe in a comment on Kate Payne's blog.. it's for a Japanese plum liqueur that can be made using loquat seeds!  Well, now I know what to do next time...

Japanese Plum Liqueur
40 seeds of loquats

1. Use really ripe fruit to get the seeds.  Put them on a large plastic tray with space between each seed.  Place them into a well ventilated, fairly dark room and allow the seeds to dry for as long as it takes for the dark skins to peel off without the use of a knife.

2. After the allotted time, peel off the skins and place in a 2 liter canning jar. Add a 750ml bottle of pure grain alcohol....leave another 40 days till the alcohol becomes amberish colored.

3. At this point, make a sugar syrup with 500 grams of sugar and one half liter of water (bottled is best for liquor making). When cool,  filter out the seeds from the alcohol and pour in the sugar syrup.  Put them in a large jar, tightly sealed, in a dark, cool place and let mellow for at least a month...the longer it sits, the better it is.