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Loquat Jelly

box-of-loquats

I think I’d heard of loquats before, but I’m not sure. They certainly don’t grow anywhere I’ve ever lived (Michigan, Ohio or Massachusetts) and if I’ve seen them as I enjoyed the beaches and tropical drinks of warmer climates, I didn’t know what they were.

Recently, I was invited to participate in a Sweet Potato recipe contest for bloggers, sponsored by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission. The deadline was coming up quickly, and I felt serious pressure as I rejected all of the usual offerings – sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping, sweet potatoes candied, or my standard sweet potatoes boiled and mashed with Indian spices. It had all been done. Thinking “Iron Chef: Battle Sweet Potato” I went all Bobby Flay on the problem, and considered a sort of hot and spicy Southwestern version of the tuber involving maybe, a sweet sticky substance like honey or jelly, and some diced, fresh chile peppers. If I had actually had the ingredients and been able to let the games begin, I might have worked through it and come up with a side dish to make the angels sing while flames shot out their tiny pink ears. Instead, I kept coming up with reasons that nothing new could possibly be invented. I thought about being sued for stealing a recipe I didn’t know about and winning the competition. I thought about the judges reading my recipe, smiling knowingly at each other, and burying it under the pile of Truly Brilliant Submissions. I gave up.

During this dark moment of procrasteration (that’s procrastination + desperation) I changed my status on facebook to say that I was in the process of devising a sweet potato recipe, and in the comments that followed, there appeared a shining path to salvation. My friend Wes, from high school, now lives in Lake Worth Florida where the loquats grow. He allowed as how loquat jelly might work in my “sweet and spicy” recipe, and offered to send me a jar of the stuff that a friend had made, using the fruit from his trees.This offer didn’t just promise a unique sweet potato recipe; I began to be obsessed with having and tasting something I had never heard of, in the way that I have previously become fixated on truffles, Greek Yogurt, beef cheek, and dark chocolate with chiles in it. A man of his word, Wes had a jar on it’s way to me via Priority Mail, within a day.

loquat-tree

This is a good news/bad news story. I received my glowing jar of loquat jelly the day before entries in the competition were due, and while I could have rushed out, bought ingredients and played with recipes all day, I found myself enmeshed in The Balls of Suriname. Somewhere among all of these cooking adventures I have to do some of the kind of work that brings in money, so the sweet potato recipe was abandoned. That’s the bad news. The good news is that after tasting the loquat jelly and finding it sweet, pectin-y and like a cross between apples and pineapple (although it was probably considerably more tart before being cooked with sugar), I knew it was really a perfect match for a sweet potato. I bought several on my regular Saturday grocery shopping trip, and began eating one for lunch every chance I got, with some loquat jelly. No butter, although that would be delicious, just the jelly. It’s pretty healthy, and it tastes kind of like the most decadent, diet-busting sweet potato pie you can imagine with no fat and not even that much sugar if you control the spoon hand.

loquat-4

If I can stop myself from slathering the whole jar on hot sweet potatoes (that sentence is making me weak in the knees) I will still have enough left to try using it in a recipe. I am, however, torn between consumption and hoarding. I have never seen loquat jelly available for purchase here, and all I can find on line are recipes, no “Buy More Loquat Jelly Here, Northerners” site. I think I’m going with the hoarding plan. If you have loquats where you are, make jelly or get someone else to do it, and guilt them into giving you a few jars. If you are in a loquat-free zone, as I am, start making friends. I can see it now: “Florida: Don’t Just Love Us For Our Loquats.”

loquat-1

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About imagineannie

I feel like I'm fifteen - does that count? I'm lots of things, I get paid to be the Managing Editor for a local news publication, and I love my job. I am also inordinately fond of reading, animals (I have four), elephants, owls, hedgehogs writing, tramping in the woods, cooking India, Ireland, England, avocado toast, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Little Women, Fun Home, Lumber Janes, Fangirl, magic, Neil Gaiman, Jane Austen, YA books, not YA books, classical music, Salinger (OMG SALINGER), Brahms, key lime pie, indie music, podcasts, sleeping in, road trips, marmalade, museums, bookstores, the Oxford comma, BBC, The Miss Fisher Mysteries, birdwatching, seashells, kombucha, and stickers. Not a huge fan of chewing gum, jazz, trucker hats or dystopian and/or post-apolcalyptic fiction (but I'll try anything).

7 responses »

  1. I’m glad that I could contribute to your culinary creativity in a meaningful way. Enjoy – I do have three more jars by the way 🙂

    Reply
  2. See, NONE of this would have happened without facebook! I LOVE it. I just bought some sweet potatoes yesterday. . . I wonder where I could “loquat” some jelly. Sorry that was bad. But YOU are great.

    Reply
  3. Weird! I grew up in Florida and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a loquat.
    (and let me tell ya, we Florida crackers have eaten some mighty strange things!!)

    I may have to convince my Sarasota friends to ship me a jar of loquat jam ASAP! Thanks for this tip!

    Reply
  4. Pfff, one jar o’ jelly and you get a whole, glowing post dedicated to your loquats…what do I have to do?

    (I have only eaten a loquat raw–it was good.)

    E

    Reply
  5. Wes, hmmmm.

    Michelle, that pun is so terrible that I may require medication. 🙂 You are right, though; it wouldn’t have happened without facebook. Harrumph to all of the people who keep writin articlers about how “artificial” it is, and how there are “no real connections.” The jelly is REALLY in my refrigerator.

    Trisha, i just read an article about what “crackers” eat, including hearts of palm from palm trees and alligators which they are allowed to kill and eat because local governments view it as a public service. I am beyond intrigued. Where is Florida did you grow up?

    Eric, your day is coming. Stay tuned.

    Reply
  6. I live near Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia and I have a loquat tree in my garden. Those of you who have not yet tasted a fresh loquat picked straight from the tree have so far missed out on one of life’s little pleasures. After reading your blog, you’ve inspired me to get out the jelly pan and get to work, so here I go……….

    Wendy

    Reply
    • I am going to try to locate a loquat (sorry ;)) while I’m in Florida this winter – I’m pretty sure I have to head south to find one in its natural state. I’m glad you’re inspired; please let me know how it turns out?

      Reply

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