Oh my! This year's loquats are a lovely apricot color and I try to pick as many as possible before the birds and squirrels (and probably rats—yecch) get them all. I've been eating loquats like gangbusters, but the abundance this year (thanks to less rain? more compost? I don't know?) has been overwhelming. Over at Cafe Liz is a recipe for brandied loquats. Alcoholic loquats, swimming in their own self-made sugary liquor-juice. I'll give that a try.
Peel a bunch of loquats. Put them in a glass container and cover them with sugar. Put in a dark, cool storage area for 2-3 months. The sugars and loquat juice ferment (I guess), creating alcoholic fruits. I'll take a look in several weeks and see what I've wrought. Hopefully this IKEA glass jar will be sufficiently sealed for the process. Ever notice how IKEA products are not exactly lock-tight?
I know what the majority of you are thinking: what the hell is a loquat? It's a fruit that is most likely native to Japan, although it grows extensively throughout China and in Mediterranean climates as well. Here's our loquat tree in the back yard. I lived in our rental for more than a year before a helpful person on the Internet helped me identify it.
Look at all these dreamy loquats! Here's the best way to eat one: pluck, wash, peel, slice in half to get rid of the weird multiple pits in the middle (four to five pits sometimes), then devour. Tastes like a cross between an apricot and a plum. Really delish. High in fiber, vitamin A, and apparently has sedative qualities if you eat enough of them. Chinese herbalists use the leaves for medicinal tea. Apparently the fruit makes a damn fine crumble as well. But don't eat a pit. It contains cyanide! That makes the loquat an exciting culinary experience, I think you'll agree. More loquat recipes here.
After 30 minutes, things started liquefying. My Mom's bringing over another big glass jar tomorrow so I'll start a new batch. This is like home-brewing for very lazy people. I'll report back in a few months, hopefully while in a sedated, alcoholic stupor.
Update: I waited three months and sure enough, my IKEA jar was not sealed tight enough and those loquats looked brown and yucky. Out they went! Luckily my Mom had lent me a better jar so the second batch, I let sit a while longer in the cupboard.
At four months, I gave them a try. The top layer of fruit browned and was mushy—out they went! The second layer was attractive and definitely brandied. The whole thing smelled like a dessert bar. The loquats were kind of on the squishy side. I still had to eat around the multiple pits too, so that got kind of messy. Resealing the jar and waiting another month resulted in another browned top layer that had to be tossed. And ultimately, I decided the texture of my loquats was not to my liking. I just like 'em fresh I guess. And sweet liquors aren't my favorites either.
So, if you ever find yourself with hundreds of loquats and you like sugary alcoholic treats, give this a try, but try to weigh down your top layer with something, like a metal weight (which I didn't have), because the air will get to them and ruin their firmness. This year my tree hardly produced any fruit and what was there got eaten by creatures, so I'll just be snacking. If I get a bumper crop again, I'll try a crumble. Until then...keep on loquating.