Thursday, May 30, 2013

Loquat Love II: Liqueur Recipes

The loquats have been incredible this year. Really. I had all these plans for them, but every time we get a bundle they disappear before I can process them.

There are two growers at the market, each with his own beautiful accent, and even though I've bought from both the last few years, one of them always seems to have sweeter, larger, more colorful loquats. Last year it was the man who grows the mulberries. This year it is the man who pawns the peaches. It's like their trees switch off growing power.

An added bonus: this year we got to the tree in the park at just the right time. Forage feast! Imagine a couple in the park near sunset. The man wields a long handled tree-pruner, the woman, who is obviously very pregnant, holds a laundry basket with a bath towel draped over the top. The man pulls the rope which cuts the stem of a big bundle of weird-looking, yellowish fruit-like things. They drop. The woman has lined up her basket with the fruit. Kind of. Sometimes the bundle is thrown off-course by a lower branch and she misses. They hit the sidewalk. Sometimes they bump twice and there is a squeal. She closes her eyes and shrinks back, but maybe she catches them. Maybe they hit her in the face. A few times. But somehow, after a half hour of this commotion and effort, they seem pleased with their picking. They load the car, and they drive off.

That was us. Basket, belly, bumps, and all.

I've been drying loquat seeds for a week now. I've never had loquat grappa, the Italian loquat seed liqueur, but I hear it is good. And surprising. Apparently it tastes of cherry? So even though I'm not sure about the results, I am posting the recipe I'm about to use because I would hate for someone to miss a season. Shall we experiment together?

I am fairly sure the loquat gin I have in process will be exactly as it should be. I used Bombay Sapphire because that is what I had aside from Hendrick's, which I think would have been an odd fit. If scent is anything--and scent is everything--then the loquats and the Bombay will be a delightful companionship. Next time I might try Boodles British Gin or Booths. Their higher alcohol content would help speed the maceration process. Or so I hear.

Happy picking and liqueuring. May the loquats be ever in your favor.


Loquat Liqueur

Adapted from Vanessa

I used gin here, but others use vodka, grain alcohol, or even brandy. Use what strikes your fancy.

You need:
3 pounds loquats, ripe and unbruised
750 ml gin, or other clear high-proof alcohol
1 1/2 pounds sugar, maybe a little more, maybe a little less

First, peel the loquats. Remove also the flower bud end. Leave the loquat seeds. Or, if you are super fearful, remove the seeds. Everyone says something different about them. Traditional Chinese medicine says they are good in moderation. Western medicine seems to say the opposite. Arsenic--they're like apple seeds and other stone fruit kernels. Proceed at your own risk. (I kept in the seeds.)

On the other hand, if you want a pure loquat flavor, not one with hints of almond and cherry, seed them anyway. Save for loquat grappa (below) or discard. 

Fill a food-grade container with the loquats. Mason jars work nicely. Pour in the sugar and then the gin. Don't worry about the sugar dissolving right away. Weigh down the loquats a little to keep them submerged. (I didn't at first. Hence a little darkening.) Loquats will oxidize otherwise and run the risk of going bad. I used a small reusable mason jar lid. The old small mouth glass ones would work well if you are using a wide mouth jar. Be creative.

Let sit, sealed, for at least a month and up to six months. When you are ready, strain off the loquats. Store in sealed bottles in a dark place and let mature for another month, if you can handle it. Serve in small quantities as a digestif, over ice perhaps, or in a cocktail. Enjoy!

Loquat Grappa (aka Loquat Seed Liqueur)

Adapted from Green Deane

The flavor options here are endless. I'm starting simple. One small batch with vanilla and lemon and another small one with the coriander. Remember, as I said above, the liqueur takes on a cherry-almond flavor. Act accordingly.

You need:

1 part loquat seeds
2 parts grain alcohol (such as Everclear) or vodka
vanilla bean and strip of lemon (optional)
OR 1/2 cinnamon stick (optional)
OR 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds (optional)
1 1/2 parts sugar
1 1/2 pars water

Let seeds dry in the sun for a week or two. 

Put seeds in a sealable container and pour over the alcohol. Let steep for 1 to 6 months. Strain off seeds and flavor solids into a bowl or larger container.

Make a simple syrup with the sugar and water. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool, then stir into the macerated alcohol. Taste. If you need it sweeter, make a little more syrup and add. If less, add more alcohol or water. 

Drink in moderation. Enjoy!


  1. can you get any fig tree cuttings?

    1. Fig tree cuttings...yes! Fig trees propagate very easily in warmer climates like California. You can literally cut a branch, stick it in the ground (or a pot of water), and it will take root. You tube has a ton of clips to guide you through it. The cuttings are especially nice if you know someone with a special variety you can't find otherwise. Good luck!

  2. Am intrigued by the Loquat Grappa. It looks like a great way to use the scraps from the rest of the loquat baking. A quick question though, did you measure the parts by volume or by weight please?

    1. Helena, the Grappa is great for that. (Always did feel wretched, slipping out all those seeds.) For this recipe, measure by volume. I use ml. You know Alissa, no? Say hi for me. And enjoy the beginnings of spring!

  3. Thank you for this! I have both the grappa and the liquor processing now. Fingers crossed!

  4. So a buddy of mine from the neighborhood gave me a big bag of loquat seeds he was planning to make grappa with, but can't since he's moving. I took them off his hands and promised to use them. Thing is, the seeds were in the fridge and have mostly sprouted. Can I still use them for grappa? Toss them out? Say frack it and grow a loquat tree? I put the bag in the freezer while I try to figure this out. Thanks for your help.

    1. I would take it out of the freezer as soon as possible and plant a few seeds. I haven't used sprouted seeds for the liqueur so I'm not sure how it would turn out, but I do know nuts and seeds change their chemical composition after sprouting, so I wouldn't recommend it.