Top 5 Ways to Use Loquats
Are you a fan of unusual, exotic fruits? If so, take a bite out of delicious, nutritious loquats, which grow in warm climates in the U.S., too.
Have you ever seen a loquat? These small, orange-yellow colored fruits may look like apricots, but they are actually an ancient fruit that originated in Southeastern China. However, for the past 1,000 years, Japan has been one of the greatest producers of loquats in the world. Loquat trees are grown all over the country and in a wide variety of climates. They can even be grown in your own backyard in many parts of the country, such as California. These trees can survive for many years and produce loquats during the spring and summer time, because sunshine and warm weather are essential for developing its fruit.
The botanical name of a loquat is “Eriobotrya Japonica,” which translates to “Japanese medlar,” because it refers to a subtropical, evergreen tree that is popularly grown as an ornamental tree due to its aesthetic greenery and sweet, edible fruit. The natural beauty of these bushy trees include a canopy of dark green leaves with clusters of vibrant, yellow-orange loquats. Loquats are small, round-shaped fruits that contain approximately 3-5 large brown seeds in their core.
Not only are these fruits utilized for ornamental purposes, they are a phenomenal source of food. Similar to an apricot, the smooth, fuzzy yellow-orange skin of loquats provides a tangy flavor, while the yellow interior contains a citrus-like, sweet, and sour flavor that allows for great versatility in numerous recipes. In addition to the mouthwatering taste of a loquat, they are also incredibly nutrient-packed. They are rich in vitamin A, fiber, antioxidants, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and more! In fact, the intake of these vitamins and minerals has been shown to decrease the negative health risks associated with weight loss, diabetes, stress, and anxiety.
Top 5 Ways to Use Loquats
1. Start Your Day Off Right with Loquats. Add loquats to your breakfast porridge for a touch of sweetness and to pack in your daily dose of nutrients! Choose ripe loquats, chop them, and stir them into the porridge as it cooks, or add sliced loquats as a topping for your porridge. You can also try glazing the loquats with brown sugar or agave syrup for a caramelized flavor. I highly recommend including ground cinnamon, ginger, or nutmeg to enhance the flavor for a delicious combination. Top off this fiber-rich porridge with a touch of maple syrup, coconut shreds, nut butter, and granola for some extra crunch.
2. Mix it into Your Fruit Salad. Celebrate the sunny season by making a refreshing, vibrant fruit salad with loquats. Creating a whole-fruit salad is such a quick, easy method to star as a nutritious snack, side dish, or even dessert. The best part is that you can add just about any of your favorite fruits to pair with loquats: try chopping up strawberries, kiwis, grapes, blueberries, watermelon, bananas, mango, pineapple, and oranges, mix them up with a drizzle of agave or maple syrup, whipped coconut milk, or vanilla extract, and a dash of cinnamon or brown sugar for added flavor. Another option is to enhance the flavor with acidic, fresh juices, such as oranges, limes, or lemons, and add the zest of that fruit to balance out the sweetness of the salad. Garnish your salad with some fresh herbs or spices and it’s ready to go!
3. Blend em’ Up! Loquats may not be considered a “typical” smoothie ingredient, but if you find them in season, why not try a smoothie with loquats? These antioxidant, nutrient-dense fruits will definitely add a fresh, sweet taste to your smoothie. Just wash the loquats, remove the seeds, chop them up (leave the skins on for more nutrition), then toss them in the blender. Next, pick your base, whether you decide on water, pure fruit or veggie juice, or a plant-based nut milk of your choice. Throw in a handful of kale or spinach for extra nutrients. A few of the fruits that would pair well with the tropical taste of loquats are bananas, pineapple, mangos, oranges, and berries. Take it up to the next level by incorporating additional health foods for more flavor, such as nut butters, dates, chia seeds, flaxseed, or hemp seeds. Now blend it up and enjoy!
4. Make it Hot. Not only is the actual loquat fruit used in various recipes, but did you know that you can use the dried leaves from the loquat tree as an herbal tea? In fact, in China loquat leaf infused tea is used in traditional medicine and to help prevent diabetes. All you need to do is crush the leaves up and add them to a boiling pot of water. Strain the tea from the pot and it’s ready to drink. And if you prefer cold tea, you can simply just add a handful of ice. Try sweetening the tea with a drizzle of agave syrup, brown sugar, or any sweetener of your choice. Similar to other teas, you can also add mint leaves or lemon slices for additional flavor.
5. Spice it Up and Use as a Dip. The versatility of loquats allows you to use this fruit whipped up as a sweet, sour, and spicy appetizer dip. Just peel and chop the loquats, combine a drizzle of lemon or lime juice with olive oil, and season it with salt, pepper, and your favorite spices for a savory taste. Let the chopped loquats soak in the dressing for a few minutes while you chop up bell peppers, red and green onions, jalapeño pepper, tomato, avocado, and cilantro. Toss everything together and place in a dish to serve with a side of whole grain tortilla chips.
Written by Savanna Rania Malki, Dietetic Intern with Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN
Photos by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN
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