The first time my neighbours brought me a plate of, what I later discovered were loquat, my initial reaction was that they were well past their sell-by date.
Imagine my surprise when I learned they were supposed to look like that and, even better, the soft pulp was juicy and delicious.
The loquat is an indicator that spring has arrived and, although the loquat tree is not native to Turkey, it has ultimately become very Mediterranean, a true local and you will see them growing everywhere.
Japanese in origin (Eriobotrya japonica), the Turkish name for it is either “Yeni Dünya” (New World), or sometimes “Malta Eriği” (Maltese Plums).
Loquats are luscious and delicious. They are juicy, tangy and sweet, with the perfect combination of acidity and sweetness, making them suitable for both sweet and savory tastes.
Enjoy the loquat on its own, with sweeter cherries or tart greengages. Or you could eat it straight from the tree. But don’t wait too long as it will be at its prime for a only a few weeks.
The health benefits of the loquat
The loquat fruit has many health benefits including boosting the immune system, preventing indigestion, managing high blood pressure, preventing risk of cancer, supporting respiratory health, balancing cholesterol level, strengthening bones, promoting blood circulation, managing diabetes, maintaining eyesight and treating inflammation.
The loquat kebab
In Gaziantep, fruits are a large part of cooking and the coming of spring heralds the making of the loquat kebab. They are also fairly easy to make at home.
The loquats are halved and stuffed with a köfte style meat ball. This recipe for Turkish meatballs from Ozlem’s Turkish Table is perfect for what you will need. The meatball recipe makes enough to serve four to six people. You will need one loquat for every meatball for the kebabs.
Halve each loquat, remove the seeds, place on a skewer and stuff with a meatball in the centre of each.
Alternate with red pepper or vegetables of your choice.
Drizzle with olive oil and cook on an outdoor grill or bake in a hot oven for 20-25 minutes.
Serve with seasonal salad and fresh bread.
Alternatively, you can substitute the meatballs for chicken.
Here are some other ways you can cook or bake with loquats.
This easy, ginger and vanilla infused loquat jam recipe comes together in about 30 minutes on the stove. Learn how to make loquat jam with water bath canning instructions included for year long enjoyment. It’s a fabulous way to preserve either a small batch of loquats, or use the excess from your tree!
Click on this link for the recipe for Loquat Jam from The Flour Handprint
Loquat Avocado Salad
This quick and easy loquat salad makes the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats or chicken, a tasty addition to your barbecue sides.
It also makes a delicious light lunch.
For the salad
- 20-30 ripe loquats
- 2-3 avocados, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1-2 tablespoons diced red onion
- 1/4 cup lightly toasted pepitas hulless pumpkin seeds)
- 1/2 small red bell pepper, diced
For the vinaigrette
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 4 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
- Halve and seed the loquats. Peel if desired. Place in a bowl with water and lemon juice to prevent oxidation.
- Make the dressing: whisk vinegar, lime juice, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil until emulsified.
- Assemble the salad: gently mix avocados, red onion, drained loquats, bell pepper, and vinaigrette to taste. Top with pepitas and serve.
Recipe courtesy of The Smart Slow Cooker
Sources: Hürriyet Daily News/My Travelling Joys/Natural Food Series