The loquat is an evergreen tree that produces small edible apricot-colored fruits that have a shape reminiscent of a mini pear. Although it is native to China, the loquat has been grown in Japan for centuries and is now found across the world. California has widespread cultivation of these fruit trees. If you are deciding whether to buy some of these fruits or perhaps grow a tree at home, you’ll probably be asking the question: what do loquats taste like? We’re about to provide all the details on this fruit’s flavor, texture, culinary uses, and much more. Let’s dive in.
What does loquat taste like?
Loquats have a sweet tropical-inspired flavor with a citrusy, slightly tangy undertone. It is a cross between an apricot, apple, and pineapple although it tastes of other fruit too. The texture ranges from firm and crispy through to a juicy peach-like texture once fully ripened. The flesh has a pleasant floral aroma which develops as the fruit ripens.
Each fruit usually contains between one and four large seeds (ovules) in the center. These seeds are hard, bitter, and unpleasant to eat. They also contain cyanogenic glycosides that release cyanide so it is best to discard them.
Loquat leaves are suitable for picking and brewing into tea. The fresh leaves need to have their underside scraped before being dried. Once infused in water, they offer a pleasant earthy taste and natural sweetness.
How to use
Eating loquats out of hand is a popular option as the fresh fruit is delicious eaten on its own. It is possible to bite into the fruit, orange skin, and all; however, many prefer to remove it as it is flavorless. To do this, tear off the stem and peel back the skin. This can be a challenge and a pairing knife may help. Once removed, slice it in half and remove the seeds before eating.
Other popular uses for the loquat include:
- cooked and turned into sweet confectionery.
- preserved as flavorsome jams and chutneys.
- added to a healthy tropical fruit salad.
- used to make pies, muffins, tarts, and other baked goods.
- processed for juice or added to smoothies.
Where to buy?
Loquats are delicious and juicy when picked fresh from the tree, but they don’t keep well once ripened so they are rarely sold in major supermarkets. In the United States, they’re grown extensively in California and they can be picked up at farmer’s markets. High-end greengrocers on the East Coast import the loquats from Spain but they aren’t cheap.
If you live in areas where they are commonly grown, you’ll often find them growing as ornamentals. In-season, you may be able to pick your own as they grow like weeds and a lot of people don’t bother to even harvest them.
How to choose quality loquats
Unlike many other fruit varieties, you won’t have the luxury of picking and choosing from different sources most of the time. But no one wants to buy a dud product, so look for fruit that is tender when touched and offers a sweet perfume. Don’t rely on skin color for an indication of quality or sweetness. Bruised skin fruits are often the best, but definitely avoid the green ones as they’ll be sour and astringent.
Loquat vs. kumquat
Although they are a similar color and size, the loquat is a member of the pome family and has a pear-like shape. The kumquat is from the citrus family and has an oblong shape, closer to a Roma tomato. Once ripened, their skin is thicker and the flesh is sourer than a ripe loquat.
Loquats are high in vitamin A, soluble fiber, and antioxidants. They’re also a good source of various minerals including magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
Nutrition facts: 1 medium loquat:
In addition to being packed with nutrients, they also contain plant compounds such as carotenoids which can assist the immune system.
Research has also shown that the leaves and seeds may help prevent Type 1 and 2 diabetes. Source.
Fast facts about loquats
- Loquat trees are from the same family as the pear, apple, and quince. Be sure to check out our handy guide on what a quince tastes like.
- Their scientific name is Eriobotrya japonica, and they grow up to 33 feet (10 meters) in height. The white flowers grow in clusters and have a pleasant floral perfume. Source.
- Other names for loquats include pipa (China), biwa (Japan), nespolo (Italy), Japanese plum, and Chinese plum.
- Its flesh can be orange, yellow, or white depending on the cultivar.
- In Asian countries, the fruits are sold still attached to the branch to help keep them from going off.
Are you considering growing a loquat tree or buying fruit from a local market? Maybe it’s on the restaurant menu? If you want to know what it tastes like then you’ll find they’re deliciously sweet and juicy fruits when fully ripened. They’re hard not to love. There is some tartness too, but nothing like a yuzu, or even a milder pomelo.
There are two not so good features of this fruit. One, the seeds make up around a third of the entire fruit (a lot like a longan). So while one fruit looks like a decent snack, you get considerably less, once the inedible bits are discarded. And two, the fruit won’t stay good for long once picked. Depending on the climate, you may be lucky to get seven days of life out of them. After that, their texture becomes unpleasant to eat and your best option is juicing them.
What is your favorite fruit that’s not well known or commonly found in the supermarket? Please feel free to share your comments below.