If you live in the southern US you may have loquat trees somewhere nearby. If you live in Jacksonville, FL, the fruit is ready to pick and eat now. The tree itself is nice looking and so is the little orangey-yellow fruit. I think most people have them for their ornamental value but the fruit is tasty.
Loquats are finicky fruit though. You need to eat them right after picking. If you wait even a day, the fruit can have turned – even when refrigerated. A good friend of ours has a loquat tree and I wanted to try making some jelly this year so we collected almost exactly 5 lbs (I weighed it) last night. True to form, some of it had gone bad overnight but at least 90% was still good this morning.
There is a good reason why you don’t see more people making jam or preserves from loquats. They are tiny and so it takes a long time to pit and peel them. I think if I did this again I’d make jelly instead. That way I could just wash them, pit them, and then blend everything up. With jelly you strain out all the solids, so you’d get rid of the skins that way. It took me slightly more than two hours to prep the 5lbs for this recipe!
NOTE: YOU MUST REMOVE THE SEEDS BEFORE COOKING AND/OR EATING. THEY ARE TOXIC.
I looked up several recipes and sort of made up my own from there. Here is what I did:
5lbs of raw loquat (2lbs or 4 cups pitted and peeled)
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of brown sugar
1 pouch of pectin
1. Remove seeds, hard white stuff around seeds, and skin. This is surprisingly easy to do, but because loquats are so small, you’ll need to do a bunch of them. Keep going until you have 4 cups of loquat “meat.” As you work, squirt the lemon juice on the loquats to keep them from turning a rotten-looking color.
2. Blend or food process loquats to desired consistency. I did it on low in a blender for about a minute to get ~1/4″ pieces.
3. Put loquats, sugar, and brown sugar in a large pot. Heat on medium until mixture is boiling.
4. Add pectin stirring constantly and bring to rolling boil. Boil and stir for 2 minutes. This part is critical or the pectin will not activate and you’ll end up with soup.
5. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes (I did 45 and that was a little too long).
6. Let cool, containerize, and refrigerate. Makes 3-4 cups.
I did not can my jam, so once it cooled, it went immediately into the fridge since it won’t have a vacuum-sealed sterilized container to prevent it from molding at room temp. We will see how long it lasts in the fridge. I’m betting a very long time just like an opened jar of any kind of jam.
It is very stiff stuff but tasty. Next time I would only cook it 30 minutes to retain more moisture so that I get 4 cups of thinner jam instead of about 3-1/4 cups.