Leaf of the Day: The Loquats are Ripe

I know I have been here over a year now because everywhere the Loquat trees are full of delicious and ripening fruit. This was my first free food discovery here in America and, having tasted them, I could not believe that so many local trees were left un harvested. There are many ways of serving these little fruits, I like the idea of preserves eaten on hot buttered toast, but they are delicious eaten, just picked, from the tree. There are at 2 trees at Leu Gardens which are bearing fruit and another one the Bronze Loquat, Eriobotrya deflexa which is only a small immature tree but is already very handsome with beautiful big serrated leaves. This variety will only have small fruit but the leaves are magnificent.

The Loquat I have drawn is Eriobotrya japonica also known as the Japanese medlar, or in Spain as the Nispero. The name is derived from “erion” which is Greek for wool and “botrus” for grape, which quite neatly describes the fuzziness of the stems, leaves and sometimes the fruit too. I wrote about it last year here so I won’t repeat myself, only to say that if you haven’t tried them you really must!

I picked a few fruit a couple of days ago but when I went back many had been eaten or picked, here is one of the culprits.

Loquats are very delicate and pulling them off the stem bruises the fruit. You have to eat them, (or draw them) quickly, as they don’t last. The one I cut open was beautifully juicy but browned quickly as I was drawing it. The thin skin of the fruit is yellow or orange, sometimes tinged with red and there are the remains of some flowers on the slightly fuzzy stem. Inside are up to 5 large brown seeds that have a golden sheen to them.


The Loquat or Nispero

Leaf of the Day: Loquat Fruit

There are two loquat trees, eriobotrya japonica. (‘nispero’ in Spanish) growing locally here and I had not realised that the fruits were edible, because no one around here seems to collect them. But I do remember seeing dishes “with nisperos” on some menus in Spain. They are absolutely delicious.
Loquats and Kumquats are not related but share a similarity in their names because the Cantonese word kwêt, means an orange and both fruit are somewhat like small oranges. Peter Thunberg had seen Loquats in Japan in 1776 ( I wrote a little about this very interesting botanist here in the Sky Flower post) and plants were taken from Canton, China, to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, England, in 1787.

Here are two beautiful images of loquats to celebrate their Oriental origin.
This one, Loquat and Mountain Bird a Chinese silk painting, Chinese Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279)

This one a Japanese woodblock print, by Shodo Kawarazaki 1889-1973

Loquats taste something like a cross between an apricot, plum, and pineapple with a delicate flavor. They are used in cooking quite extensively and have a high pectin content so are often made into jams and jellies and preserves.
Prepare a delicious loquat sauce to pour over pan fried pork tenderloin with strawberries, loquats, and Madeira wine. Delicious!

Mine here do not look particularly appetising I know. It is a little bit past the best time for loquats but I wanted to draw these two just as they were, one split open and one whole.

Loquat Fruit