We're in the thick of loquat season here in Berkeley. Many of the loquat trees are so laden with these exotic orange fruits that they look as if they might actually topple over.
Since I lived on the east coast for 29 years without ever once encountering a loquat tree, I realize that many of you may be wondering what on earth a loquat is... If so, loquats are a delicious fruit that are native to southeastern China but that also seem to flourish here in California. They have a juicy flesh that is somewhat firm and very sweet. Their flavor is hard to describe but I personally think it falls somewhere between an apple and an apricot, if you can imagine that. Each fruit contains two big, beautiful seeds that look like little balls of polished wood).
Although it is extremely easy to forage for loquats here in North Berkeley, my brother and his family actually have a big loquat tree growing behind their house which makes it even easier to pick them.
We recently got together to make a big batch of loquat chutney. The fruits are a perfect choice for this spicy, sweet treat. My adorable niece Lila helped pick the loquats and did her share of eating the fruits, too, as her sticky little face can attest.
The seeds do make this task a bit more time-consuming but many hands will make the work go quickly so this is a good thing to do with friends. I recommend making a big batch and canning it since a jar of loquat chutney makes a very nice gift.
I made a special label for my jars (move over Martha Stewart...) which you can see below and are also welcome to use for your own jars if you like. I took my inspiration from a beautiful Chinese painting of a loquat tree and bird from the time of the Song Dynasty (though my version is done in colored pencil.) For more detailed instructions on how to can foods, read my "how to" post here or check out Sunset magazine's nice online tutorial.
* 1 1/2 pounds loquats -- washed, de-seeded and cut into small pieces
* 1 pound onion -- chopped
* 1/2 pound apples, grated
* 1 pound sugar
* 2 teaspoons mustard
* 2 teaspoons sea salt
* 1 teaspoon curry powder
* 1 tbsp mustard seeds, crushed
* 1 tablespoon molasses
* 2 tbsps fresh ginger, peeled and julienned into thin strips
* 1 pint (2 cups) apple cider vinegar
* 2 cups water
* 1/4 cup raisins or currants
1. Put all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook gently until soft and a good color, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours, stirring regularly to prevent the chutney from sticking or burning.
2. Boil the canning jars (1/2 pint , 1 pint, etc., the size is up to you) and lids to sterilize them (you can also sterilize them in your dish washer if you prefer.)
Pour the hot chutney into the hot jars, being sure to leave half an inch of headroom in each jar.
Drop the sterilized lids on, cover with the rings and tighten until well closed.
3. Process the sealed jars for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Remove the jars from the boiling water bath and let cool in a draft-free place overnight. Check the lids to make sure they've popped down to ensure they're properly sealed (I love the sound the jars make as they seal.) If any of the lids have not sealed properly, refrigerate those jars and use them right away. The rest can be stored in a cool dark place for 9 months.
This chutney is a nice accompaniment to roasted meats, lamb burgers, kabobs of all kinds, Indian food, vegetable fritters, and many more things.
You may also like the following posts:
On Canning and Preserving
On Foraged Foods