Earlier this week I had a great dinner with my friends Heidi and Tom at their house, which I hadn’t been to before. Guess what they have on their property? Loquat trees!
Which just begs the question: What’s a loquat?
I’ve tried a lot of uncommon fruits and veggies in my day, and even though they looked familiar, I couldn’t remember if I’ve had loquats before or not. So the first thing I did was search my own blog. I have a whole archive of blog posts about strange, new-to-me produce items, but loquats wasn’t on the list. I did find a blog post from September 2010 (my first month of blogging!) where I mentioned, very briefly, buying loquats at the farmer’s market, so yes, I’ve had them. But not for nearly five years. And I’ve never really written about them… so here goes!
Loquats are indigenous to parts of China, and they’ve been cultivated in Asia for thousands of years. They’re small and yellow, but there’s not much edible flesh to them, because there are big seeds inside. How many seeds is a mystery that gets solved when you eat it. There could be anywhere from 1-5 per loquat.
Loquats aren’t seen very often in grocery stores. They don’t travel well or have a long shelf life off the tree. And they’re only grown in warm areas (they’re very popular in the middle east), so I’m glad that I have friends with loquat trees, because I kinda like these little buggers!
They’re slightly tart, but sweet too, with a taste that’s kinda like an apple crossed with a mango, and a texture that reminds me of a nice ripe pear. They have a very thin skin (it’s edible, but some people like to peel it), and so these guys are easy to eat, and I ended up eating them like I do cherries: pop the whole thing in my mouth, and spit the seeds out.
Don’t eat those seeds, by the way. They contain trace amounts of toxins (as do the leaves of the tree) that release cyanide when digested. It would take a lot of loquat seeds to die of cyanide poisoning, but I’m not going to experiment to see how many, and neither should you.
Cyanide may be bad, but loquats do have benefits. They’re a good source for vitamin A, fiber, and manganese.
Heidi, Tom and I had a bunch of loquats for dessert, and Heidi and Tom sent me home with all the rest that we picked, so I’m been munching on them for a few days!
I love a new healthy snack!
Keep it up, David!