Aloha and mahalo! Today we shall study the loquat, one of the fruits that can be ripe in Hawaii in winter. Early varieties of loquat ripen as early as November or December in Hawaii. The later varieties are often sweeter, though, and we enjoy them in the springtime. The ‘Gold Nugget’ variety is one of the latest and best of these fruits.
In a tropical climate, we are fortunate to have good fruit all the year round. Loquat is one of many fruits grown in Hawaii, probably brought here by immigrants from China. Only the ripest and sweetest of the loquats can compare with other tropical delights such as mangoes and papaya. A good loquat is sweet, not too acidic, and firm and soft beneath a waxy skin. Inside, there are from one to several large seeds to remove when you eat the fruit.
The loquat has an important niche by ripening at a time when most fruits are not available. In some temperate growing areas the loquat is very special because it blooms and fruits in the springtime. When other summer fruits are not yet ready, there are loquats and they have much vitamin C. Even in Hawaii, though we have more fruits, there are fewer choices available when the early loquats come in.
Loquat trees are lovely in the home yard. Their leaves are lush, dark green, and tropical looking. Glossy on top, these leaves are rougher on the bottom where they appear to be a gray-green color. The trees are easy to grow. The only trouble is what to do with all of those loquats when they come in.
Fortunately, in addition to eating it fresh, loquats make good jam or chutney. You can cut and freeze them also. Do not keep them in the freezer for too long. Why? Because when there are ripe mangoes and papaya in season, no one wants to eat loquats! They are very good when the choices are fewer. Also, in China, loquats are boiled into syrup and that makes a good cough syrup.
All photographs are CC from Wikimedia.org. Top: Jean-Pol Grandmont. Middle: oldie~commonswiki. Bottom: mk2010