If you live in an older Santa Barbara home, chances are you have at least one fruit bearing loquat tree in your yard.
These beautiful evergreen trees are very prolific this time of year; they are unusual fruit trees in that they flower in the fall with fruit coming in late winter and early spring.
Many people just see these trees as ornamental and miss out on the tasty fruit! These lovely clusters of small, yellow to orange treats are delicious. Loquats are packed with vitamin A, smell divinely fresh and tastes like a mix between peach and mango, fantastic right?
Well, they do come with a couple difficulties. To get to the fruit, the skin really needs to be totally peeled away. It’s rather tough‑– I feel like a cow chewing cud when I forgo the peeling. Also, these little guys are full of large seeds. Sometimes, you’ll find only one seed, but most of the time there are three of these dime-sized babies.
All of the skin and seed issues cut into the actual quantity of fruit, which makes using this fruit in recipes a little difficult or maybe it adds to the charm?
My favorite way to enjoy loquats is picking and eating them right off the tree when I’m outside futzing around in the garden. Seeds spit into bushes and peels tossed into the compost pile, now that’s charm. But I felt compelled to do something more with all this fruit.
The other day I was on a mission to make a drink; muddling the fruit and adding coconut water and vodka – and it was just terrible tasting— it happens. So Plan B was born (B for Bellini) making damn good use of this beautiful spring fruit. If you happen to be hosting a brunch or shower this spring here’s an ideal recipe that is unique and special. You can make the puree the day before and makes good use of all that loquat surplus in the backyard.
Puree serves 12 drinks, 1 bottle of sparkling wine should pour 6 drinks (so you do the math)
6-8 loquats, peeled and seeds removed
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
Squeeze of lime
Champagne or sparkling wine
After peeling and removing the seeds from the loquats, place in a medium size saucepan.
Add ½ cup of sugar, ½ cup water and a pinch of salt. Over medium heat, cook on the stove and bring to bubble, hold at an aggressive simmer until the loquats are soft and the syrup has thickened up a bit. Puree in a blender (immersion or normal) and add a squeeze of lime juice.
Cool puree. To serve, add two teaspoons of loquat puree into each champagne glass and top with your favorite sparkling wine. Remember to pour it slowly and give it a little swirl to incorporate the juice in the bubbles, you’re good to go.