Cooking with loquats

Make use of the readily-available and delicious loquat.
Make use of the readily-available and delicious loquat. Photo: Jennifer Soo

Before I came to Australia I thought loquats were a kind of grasshopper that you see during barmy summer nights whilst sipping Pimm’s and watching the sun go down. It wasn’t until I began asking questions about the trees loaded with mysterious, attractive yellow-orange fruits lining Melbourne’s suburban streets that I was enlightened.

I began researching the loquat with the help of two mouldy, dog-eared books on my shelf and discovered the fruit is believed to have originated in either China or Japan, and that it is closely related to apples, pears and medlars; interesting really, as the pip inside is more like the pip in a stone fruit.

I first bit into these little gems while walking the streets of Abbotsford but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I thought much more about them. I found myself in possession of a few kilos of loquats by way of a produce swap we do at Pope Joan and was forced to work out how I could use them to make-good the deal.

Straining the loquat pulp.
Straining the loquat pulp. Photo: Matt Wilkinson

There’s only so much jam or chutney you can make or consume, so I decided I’d experiment with a loquat puree. Late one Sunday night I boiled them whole in some water until the skins started to split. During the cooking process an aroma reminiscent of marizpan filled the kitchen. Inspired, my thoughts turned to making a simple loquat and almond frangipane tart.

So the loquats skins had split and the flesh was oozing out. I simply strained the mixture, reserving the juices then removed the pods from the leftover fruit. I then mashed the fruit and added it back to the juices. I stirred in a cup of sugar and cooked it down until the loquats were properly cooked. Simple.

Loquat and almond frangipane tart with crème fraiche

200g  soft butter
200g almond meal
200g raw sugar
2 eggs (free-range of course)
200g loquat puree
300g crème fraiche

There's only so much jam or chutney you can make or consume, so I decided I'd experiment with a loquat puree.

Throw the butter, almond meal and sugar into a blender or food mixer and whiz it up until it’s all fully incorporated.

Add the eggs and puree. Blitz it again, then pour it into a lined baking tray and bake in a pre-heated oven at 190C for 1 hour. Check by placing a skewer into the middle of the cake.

Portion and serve straight away with a big dollop of crème fraiche. Enjoy.

What else to do with loquats?
I reckon the puree would go great in a pie with some cherries added. Or, maybe use the puree with terrine or cheese on a platter. But you know, you could eat them straight from the tree; they are quite delicious that way too.

Do you have a bumper crop of loquats growing in your backyard? What uses have you devised for them?