April is upon us, and that means the loquats are here! What are loquats, you ask? Also called Japanese plums or nisperos, loquats — not related to kumquats — are a little yellowish-orange fruit that grow on trees around Austin. I first had them when I was living in Spain, where you could buy them in the farmers markets.
Here, however, you have to forage them yourself from ornamental trees planted all over the city. Some neighborhoods have more than others, so if you don’t see them in yours, keep an eye peeled as you drive around town. I’ve been obsessed with loquats for years now, and every year, I do my own little PR campaign so that Austinites know that they are not only edible but delicious and fun to eat, too.
I like to peel the outside and then scrape the flesh with my teeth, but some people pop the whole thing in their mouth, chew around the seeds and then spit them out, much like sunflower seeds. You can make salsa and marmalade and cocktails and barbecue sauce and all kinds of stuff with them, but beware the big seeds inside. It’s not hard to remove, but there’s an inner membrane that is best to peel off, too.
Last week, a reader called me to chat about making frozen loquat margaritas, a drink he makes every year with the loquats he forages from the trees on his property using orange juice concentrate, tangerine juice and blanco tequila. I made my own version with simple syrup, lime juice and tequila in a livestream, which I’ve reposted at food.blog.austin360.com.