Saturday, May 15, 2010


Loquat tree.

What’s that unusual fruit? Egg-shaped, the color of bright apricots, growing in clusters amongst floppy, dark-green leaves on a small tree in my neighbors’ garden. It’s a níspero, or loquat (Eriobotry japonica) (and not a medlar, as it is sometimes mistakenly called). Like apples and pears, the loquat is a member of the rose family. Loquats ripen in the spring, much earlier than apricots, but their season is brief. Now’s the time to enjoy them.

Originally from China, the loquat was long cultivated in Japan. Some sources say that the tree arrived in Europe as late as the 17th century, but according to others, it was first cultivated in Spain as early as the 12th century by the Arabs. The trees grow in subtropical climes along the south and east coastlines of Spain. Loquats grown in Alicante province have a protected quality denomination, Nísperos de Callosa d’en Sarrià.

Nisperos are loquats.

Loquats are easy to peel—just cut off the stem end and strip back the skin. In the center are dark, knobby seeds (from one to five, but averaging three). The fruit is tangy-sweet, sort of like a spicy pear in taste. The flesh is firm but juicy, not grainy, but not absolutely creamy. It oxidizes easily, so the pulp darkens from orange to dark pumpkin.

I like to eat loquats straight from the tree or diced into a fruit salad (with their seasonal contemporary strawberries). The puree makes a lovely mousse, enriched with cream and set with gelatin.

Loquats have cluster of seeds in center.

To prepare the loquats, peel them, cut in half and use a small spoon or melon baller to scoop out the seeds. Puree in a blender with lemon juice. Two pounds of loquats (16 to 17 fruits) make about 2 cups of puree.

Loquat Mousse
Espuma de Nísperos

I like lemon-vanilla with the loquats, but lemon-cinnamon or lemon-ginger are good too. You can prepare a low-fat version of this dessert by using two percent milk in place of the cream and no-fat Greek yogurt.

What, no loquat? Use apricot or nectarine puree in this recipe.

Makes 6 (1/2-cup) servings.

½ cup milk
2 ½ teaspoons plain gelatin
1 ½  cups pureed loquats
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg, separated
½ cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup light cream
grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups Greek-style yogurt

Place the milk in a small bowl and sprinkle over the gelatin. Combine the loquat puree with lemon juice.

Beat the egg white until stiff. Beat in 2 tablespoons of sugar. Reserve the egg white. Place the yolk in a small bowl.

Put the puree in a pan with remaining sugar, cream and zest. Heat until it begins to simmer. Beat some of the hot cream into the yolk, then whisk it into the pan. Cook on a low heat, stirring constantly, until yolk thickens slightly. Whisk in the milk and gelatine until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add the vanilla. Beat in the yogurt. Fold in the beaten egg white.

Pour the mixture into dessert cups. Chill until the mousse is set, at least 4 hours.

Loquat mousse.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good. Similar to the apricot frozen dessert I love so much.