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Exotic little fruit adds tropical taste to spring

Recipe: Loquat sauce a versatile topping

Among the first stone fruit of summer, loquats can be used like peaches. (Photos: Debbie Arrington

The first loquats I ever ate grew on a mystery tree that sprouted in the back of our Long Beach yard. (I assumed it was planted by birds.)

The fast-growing tree had interesting, textured foliage, making it a handsome volunteer. The roundish yellow fruit were a bonus.

But what to do with them? First, remember loquats have nothing to do with kumquats. Think peach, not citrus.

Loquats seem to be all big brown seeds, wrapped in juicy fruit. The flesh is tangy, almost tart, until fully ripe when loquats become honey sweet.

Nicknamed Japanese plum, the loquat has been cultivated in Japan for more than a thousand years. Native to China, it’s also very popular in Korea, India and Pakistan. Loquat comes in several varieties, most 1 to 2 inches long and born in clusters. The skin may be smooth or downy, yellow or orange or blushed with red. The flesh ranges from creamy white to apricot orange.

Loquats are among the first stone fruit of spring, but they have a big head start. With fragrant white flowers, the trees bloom in October or November. If the winter is mild, the loquats ripen in April and May.

Loquats have a tropical taste; part peach, citrus and mango. Such a combination is worth the effort it takes to peel and seed these small fruit.

Loquat sauce goes equally well in sweet or savory dishes.

As for what to do with them, loquats can substitute for peaches in a wide range of recipes. But I think they’re best when their individuality is allowed to stand out, complementing that sweet-tart tropical taste.

This sauce is equally at home on top of pork tenderloin or vanilla ice cream. It also works well with grilled chicken, roast duck or flan.

Experiment with spices. For savory dishes, add ¼ teaspoon of red chili flakes or ground ginger along with the jelly.

Also, try substituting ½ cup fresh strawberries for half the sliced loquats, then use strawberry jam as the sweetener; a very good combination with grilled pork or pound cake.

The big seeds are a distinguishing feature of loquats.

Quick loquat sauce
Makes about 1 cup


1 cup loquats, peeled, seeded and sliced
Juice of ½ orange (about ¼ cup)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons pear jelly, strawberry jam or orange marmalade

Instructions :

Wash fruit gently and peel, removing the bloom end and stem. Cut each loquat in half, remove seeds and any tough surrounding membrane. Slice fruit into eighths. Toss slices with orange juice.

Once the ingredients are in the pan, the sauce goes quickly.
In a nonstick pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add fruit and any accumulated juices to the pan. Reduce heat to low. Cook the loquats until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add jelly, jam or marmalade to the pan. Blend it into the pan juices, stirring continuously, until this sweetener is melted. Stir to blend well with fruit. Serve warm.


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For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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