Sunday, April 25, 2010
If you're lucky enough to have a loquat tree, or know someone who does, you're probably knee-deep in this exotic fruit right now. Loquats are just coming into season; and they are bountiful this year (as most). If you don't have a tree of your own, the next best thing is Tree Share, Jed Lind's endeavor to make locally-grown fruit more available.
Jed had beautiful, plump loquats at the CSA pick-up in Silver Lake on Friday. He was kind enough to give me enough to make a small batch of loquat jam, one of my favorite seasonal treats. You can preserve the sweet, floral flavor of this delicious fruit by canning a few jars of loquat jam.
Prepare the fruit:
Start with about 4 lbs of ripe loquats to yield about 2 lbs of prepared fruit. Cut the loquats in half from stem to blossom end. Remove the seeds and pull off the slightly fibrous sac that surrounds the seeds. Then peel the skin off each half.** Ripe loquats peel very easily. There's no need to blanch them. If your loquats are difficult to peel, they're probably not fully ripe yet. Cut away any dark bruises and put the loquat halves in a bowl with water and a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown.
For the jam:
2 lbs prepared fruit
4 C sugar
juice of one medium lemon
1. Chop the prepared loquats to your desired size. They don't smash up much when cooking, so make them about the size you want in your jam.
2. Put the loquats in an 8 qt jam pot with the sugar and lemon juice. Heat over medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts.
3. Bring the jam to a boil. Turn the heat down to a bubbling simmer (not a boil) and cook the jam, stirring often, until it reaches the jell point on a candy or jelly thermometer - 220 degrees Fahrenheit. This will take 60 to 80 minutes. The jam will be thick and golden in color.
4. Ladle the hot jam into sterilized jars and can in a hot water bath canner for 5 minutes to seal the jars. Or, skip the canning process and pour the jam into a jar or plastic container and store the jam in the refrigerator for immediate use. Sealed jars from a hot water bath canner may be stored on the shelf for a year or longer. Once opened, store the jam in the fridge.
This recipe will yield about 4 half-pint jars of loquat jam.
I like to add a little spice to my loquat jam. I find that cardamom pods enhance the exotic flavor of loquats. I add 8 pods and cook them with the jam until they start to open. Then I remove them (and any seeds that might have escaped), as they are hard and crunchy.
**You can leave the skins on the loquats, if you prefer. They're a little tough and don't soften substantially in the jam-making process, so if you choose to leave the skins on, chop the loquats finely for your jam.