12 Apr First Fruit Harvest
Around here, loquats make up the first harvest of the year, flowering beginning in late October and ripening in March and April. Ranging from dark yellow to organgish-red, and from round to oval, these apricot-sized fruit are found on a fast-growing, tropical-looking broad-leafed evergreen that makes a great privacy screen.
That’s why we planted three originally, but after the third year, they started producing hundreds of orange fruit. And it turns out that although we bought them at the same time from the same local nursery, they’re three different varieties.
Lots of people seem to either let the fruit serve as bird (and kid) food, or make up loquat jelly.
Myself, I prefer pie.
If you have a favorite peach pie recipe, you can pretty much substitute peeled, seeded loquats that have been quartered. Or bake them into a double-crust pie thusly:
Pick 3.5 to 4 pounds of loquats. Rinse them off in a colander.
Pre-heat your oven to 450. Roll out pie dough into a 9-inch pie plate and reserve more dough for the top crust.
You will have snapped the stem end off of the fruit in the picking process. Now cut off the other end, peel each one with your fingers (it comes off fairly easily). Then take a paring knife and slit the fruit down one side. Slide your fingers in and pop out the seeds and discard them. (I’ve seen some recipes suggest keeping a few seeds for added color and flavor in the pie. Don’t do it, as they are reportedly toxic.) Now cut or tear the fruit into three or four pieces and put them into a medium mixing bowl.
Now take about a half-cup of water and the juice of a lemon or lime, and mix it together with the fruit in a pan, on medium to medium-high heat. Cook for about 15 minutes. Then mix the following ingredients together, and add to the pot:
– About a cup of sugar
– a half-teaspoon of salt
– two tablespoons of flour
– two teaspoons of cinnamon
– a quarter-teaspoon of allspice or cloves
Stir into the fruit mixture until it thickens, which won’t take long. Then pour the mixture into the pie pan. Place the rest of the pie dough on top and pinch the edges together around the pie plate rim and the bottom crust. Get a fork and poke some holes in the top crust in a cutesy shape.
Bake the pie at 450 degrees for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 350 and bake for 30 more minutes.
Let it cool, then dig in. Or, it’s pretty darn good the next day if refrigerated overnight.