My recent trip to the turkish supermarket not only led to the complement of my new spice rack, but also to a new discovery. It really wasn’t my first visit at the shop and I would call myself culinary interested, a foodie … but I hadn’t seen, tasted or known this fruit before … till it attracted my attention, although unimpressive at first sight. What is this? Would you have known?
No, it is not an apricot … that would have been too easy, wouldn’t it? “Mispel” (medlar) I read on the tag, but that didn’t help me much at this point.
I took some of them with me home, and after some research, I felt safe enough to try one of the fruits, which – as I found out – weren’t really medlars, although they’re called Japanese medlar. Actually, the correct name is loquat and it doesn’t even belong botanically to the medlar family.
You can eat loquats raw or cook them f.ex. into jam or juice. So I peeled off the skin, removed the core and tasted … what looked like an apricot, tasted more like … grapes, green grapes, juicy and sour. Interesting!
After this first approach I wanted more, more experiments with my new discovery. Jam was the next step: I went for a fruit:sugar ratio of 2:1 as I don’t like the tartness to be overwhelmed by all the sugar and I had never problems with conservation. As I read that loquats are rich of acid and pectin, I didn’t use any additional pectin, but some lemon juice for additional acid (needed for the gelling process). This worked out well, although the jam got a bit thinner than I usually have it. For additional flavour I added some cardamom pods.
And the outcome? – Vivid yellow colour that intensifies during the cooking processand a flavour that ressembles most to apricot jam, but is difficult to describe in its difference. I guess, you have to try for yourself! But hurry up: loquats are a real spring fruit and should be eaten or further processed as quick as possible after picking.
Loquat jam (4 jars at 210 ml)
750 g peeled and cored louqat (I think it were about 20 fruits, sorry, forgot to count…), 350 g sugar
[Cook bigger or smaller batches of this jam, just make sure that the fruit:sugar ratio is 2:1]
1 lemon, dash of vanilla seeds, 4 cardamom pods (optional)
After peeling (it works perfect with a not too sharp knive) and coring the louqats, cut them into chunks and immediatly mix them with the juice of 1/2 lemon. They’re getting brown very quickly. Add vanilla and cardamom, mix thoroughly and let rest for 1/2 hour. The sugar will dissolve in the meantime.
Sterilise jars and lids. [I usually cover them with boiling water and put them out of the water just before fillling in the jam].
Bring sugar-fruit-mixture to boil and let it cook for about five minutes. Test if your jam has the right consistency by putting a little drop on a cool plate. If it’s too runny cook for another few minutes.
Remove cardamom pods and blend fruits with a hand blender. Fill hot jam into jars and close lid tightly.