Season for Loquat March - May
It's likely you've never even heard of this fruit (also called a Japanese Plum)... but that doesn't mean it isn't delicious! A neglected member of the pome family - which includes apples, pears and quinces - loquats look like mini apricot-colored pears, about 1-3 inches wide. They have several glossy brown seeds in the center of yellow, orange or cream-colored flesh (that you shouldn't eat!). The flavor can be described as an apricot, plum and cherry blend - yum - with some floral overtones.
How to Buy and Store Loquat
It's not like you're going to come across a plethora of options when it comes to loquats, but nonetheless, here's what to look for: A sweet, fruity fragrance and slight tenderness to the touch. When it comes to color, avoid the green ones, but don't be turned off by bruising or mottled loquats; they will likely taste the best (but must be eaten quickly). Avoid wrinkles or cuts, though. Depending on their ripeness, loquats can be refrigerated for a few days but must be eaten rather soon.
How to Cook Loquat
It's widely expressed that loquats are best when eaten out of hand, freshly plucked from a neighborhood tree. Some people like to peel the skin off, but that's simply a matter of preference. It is imortant to not eat the seeds, however, which can be poisonous. Loquats do beautifully and make for uniquely farm-to-table chutneys, jams, ice creams, cake fillings, salsas and even additions to smoothies. They also pair beautifully with some cheeses as an appetizer or can make a delicious component to fruit salads drizzled with a little coconut milk/cream.
Health Benefits of Loquat
Everyone loves low in calories yet rich in insoluble dietary fiber, right? Then, go loquat! This fruit is also an excellent source of vitamin A and flavonoids, both of which help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers, among others. Phosphorus, potassium and beta-carotene make this an incredibly worthy snack and/or dessert, too. One reason you may want to forego peeling this fruit: It carries most of the nutrients.
Why Buy Natural and Organic Loquat
Most likely you'll only encounter a couple of basketfulls of loquats at your local farmers market owing to the perishability of this fruit. Luckily, it's also most likely they will be pesticide free. Ask your farmer... just in case. And enjoy your organic loquat for the short time they are available.