Suppression

Loquats

Category: Food

Type

Voluntary

Introduction and description

 

The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a species of flowering plant in the family Rosaceae, it is grown commercially for its yellow fruit, and also cultivated as an ornamental plant in semi-tropical climates.   In temperate climates it is grown as an ornamental with winter protection, as the fruits seldom ripen to an edible state. In the United Kingdom, it has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

Eriobotrya japonica was formerly thought to be closely related to the genus Mespilus, and is still sometimes known as the Japanese medlar. It is also known as Japanese plum and Chinese plum, as well as the P'I P'A in China.

Distribution

 

The loquat is originally from China (the Chinese name is P'I P'A) where related species can be found growing in the wild.  The loquat was often mentioned in ancient Chinese literature, such as the poems of Li Bai.

It was introduced into Japan and became naturalised there in very early times; it has been cultivated in Japan for about 1,000 years and presumably the fruits and seeds were brought back from China to Japan by the many Japanese scholars visiting and studying in China during the Tang Dynasty.

It has since also become naturalised in Armenia, Afghanistan, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bermuda, Chile, Kenya, India, Iran, Iraq, South Africa, the whole Mediterranean Basin, Pakistan, New Zealand, Réunion, Tonga, Central America, Mexico, South America and in warmer parts of the United States (Hawaii, California, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina). Chinese immigrants are presumed to have carried the loquat to Hawaii.

In the highland parts of Central America, the loquat has become naturalized, and is often found growing wild in areas that have been disturbed but abandoned, its seeds having been dispersed by birds. Below 1000 meters, the fruit remains inedible for its high acidity, but above it, the wild fruit is appreciated and much harvested for its sweet, fruity flavour.  It is occasionally planted for living fenceposts, as the tree is long-lived, not much subject to disease, and the wood is hard and durable.

Description

 

Eriobotrya japonica is a large evergreen shrub or small tree, with a rounded crown, short trunk and woolly new twigs. The tree can grow to 5–10 metres (16–33 ft) tall, but is often smaller, about 3–4 metres (10–13 ft).

 The leaves are alternate, simple, 10–25 centimetres (4–10 in) long, dark green, tough and leathery in texture, with a serrated margin, and densely velvety-hairy below with thick yellow-brown pubescence; the young leaves are also densely pubescent above, but this soon rubs off.

Loquats are unusual among fruit trees in that the flowers appear in the autumn or early winter, and the fruits are ripe at any time from early spring to early summer.  The flowers are 2 cm (1 in) in diameter, white, with five petals, and produced in stiff panicles of three to ten flowers. The flowers have a sweet, heady aroma that can be smelled from a distance.

Loquat fruits, growing in clusters, are oval, rounded or pear-shaped, 3–5 centimetres (1–2 in) long, with a smooth or downy, yellow or orange, sometimes red-blushed skin. The succulent, tangy flesh is white, yellow or orange and sweet to subacid or acid, depending on the cultivar.

Each fruit contains from one to ten ovules, with three to five being most common. A variable number of the ovules mature into large brown seeds. The skin, though thin, can be peeled off manually if the fruit is ripe. In Egypt varieties with sweeter fruits and fewer seeds are often grafted on inferior quality specimens.

The fruits are the sweetest when soft and orange. The flavour is a mixture of peach, citrus and mild mango.

Cultivation

loquat cake

Over 800 loquat cultivars exist in Asia.  The loquat is easy to grow in subtropical to mild temperate climates where it is often primarily grown as an ornamental plant, especially for its sweet-scented flowers, and secondarily for its delicious fruit. The boldly textured foliage adds a tropical look to gardens, contrasting well with many other plants. It is popular in the American South as an ornamental plant for its blossoms, though winter frosts rarely allow the flowers to survive and bear fruit the following spring.

There are many named cultivars, with orange or white flesh. Some cultivars are intended for home-growing, where the flowers open gradually, and thus the fruit also ripens gradually, compared to the commercially grown species where the flowers open almost simultaneously, and the whole tree's fruit also ripens together.

Japan is the leading producer of loquats followed by Israel and then Brazil.

Medicinal uses

Wikipedia

loquat margarita

Loquat syrup is used in Chinese medicine for soothing the throat and is a popular ingredient for cough drops.  The leaves, combined with other ingredients and known as pipa gao (枇杷膏; pinyin: pípágāo; literally "loquat paste"), it acts as a demulcent and an expectorant, as well as to soothe the digestive and respiratory systems.
In Japan, loquat leaves are dried to make a mild beverage known as biwa cha by brewing them using the traditional Japanese senjiru method. Biwa cha is held to beautify skin and heal inflammatory skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema and to heal chronic respiratory conditions such as bronchitis.

If we go to Dr Duke’s phytochemical database and look at the activity for loquats, we can see that much of the healing activity is indeed in the leaves.  This does not mean the fruits are without merit, but the leaves are more medicinal.

If we have a look at Dr Duke’s list of ethnobotanical uses we find the following:

Eriobotrya japonica (Rosaceae)

Use

Country/Region

Reference

Ache(Stomach)

China

Lost Crops of the Incas.

Antitussive

China

Lost Crops of the Incas.

Antitussive

China

Keys, J.D. 1976. Chinese Herbs. Charles E. Tuttle Co., Tokyo.

Cancer

Japan

Hartwell, J.L. 1967-71. Plants used against cancer. A survey. Lloydia 30-34.

Chafe

China

Shih-chen, Li. 1973. Chinese medinal herbs. Georgetown Press, San Francisco.

Coryza

China

Shih-chen, Li. 1973. Chinese medinal herbs. Georgetown Press, San Francisco.

Cough

China

ANON. 1974. A barefoot doctor's manual. DHEW Publication No. (NIH): 75-695.

Cough

China

Shih-chen, Li. 1973. Chinese medinal herbs. Georgetown Press, San Francisco.

Cyanogenetic

China

Keys, J.D. 1976. Chinese Herbs. Charles E. Tuttle Co., Tokyo.

Depression

Indochina

 

Diarrhea

Indochina

 

Diarrhea

Elsewhere

 

Epistaxis

China

Shih-chen, Li. 1973. Chinese medinal herbs. Georgetown Press, San Francisco.

Expectorant

Elsewhere

 

Expectorant

China

Lost Crops of the Incas.

Expectorant

China

Keys, J.D. 1976. Chinese Herbs. Charles E. Tuttle Co., Tokyo.

Expectorant

China

ANON. 1974. A barefoot doctor's manual. DHEW Publication No. (NIH): 75-695.

Hemoptysis

China

ANON. 1974. A barefoot doctor's manual. DHEW Publication No. (NIH): 75-695.

Nausea

China

Lost Crops of the Incas.

Nausea

China

Shih-chen, Li. 1973. Chinese medinal herbs. Georgetown Press, San Francisco.

Nausea

Elsewhere

 

Pertussis

China

ANON. 1974. A barefoot doctor's manual. DHEW Publication No. (NIH): 75-695.

Refrigerant

Elsewhere

 

Sedative

Elsewhere

 

Smallpox

China

Shih-chen, Li. 1973. Chinese medinal herbs. Georgetown Press, San Francisco.

Sore

China

Shih-chen, Li. 1973. Chinese medinal herbs. Georgetown Press, San Francisco.

Stomachic

Elsewhere

ANON. 1978. List of Plants. Kyoto Herbal Garden, Parmacognostic Research Lab., Central Research Division, Takeda Chem. Industries, Ltd., Ichijoji, Sakyoku, Kyoto, Japan.

Swelling

Indochina

 

Thirst

China

Shih-chen, Li. 1973. Chinese medinal herbs. Georgetown Press, San Francisco.

Thirst

Elsewhere

 

Thirst

China

Lost Crops of the Incas.

Wine-Nose

China

Shih-chen, Li. 1973. Chinese medinal herbs. Georgetown Press, San Francisco.

 

 Nutrition

The table below shows the approximate vitamin and mineral content of loquats, although one should bear in mind that this will depend a great deal upon the conditions in which they were grown.  The table comes from the USDA Nutrients database.  What it does not show is that the plant as a whole has quercetin in it, and the fruit has salicylates, which according to Newall, C. A., Anderson, L. A. and Phillipson, J. D.s 1996. Herbal Medicine - A Guide for Health-care Professionals. [The Pharmaceutical Press, London] have Antiaggregant, Antiinflammatory , Antipyretic, Antiuricosuric , and Uricosuric activity. 

Loquats, raw

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Energy

197 kJ (47 kcal)

Carbohydrates

12.14 g

Dietary fiber

1.7 g

Fat

0.2 g

Protein

0.43 g

Vitamins

Vitamin A equiv.

(10%) 76 μg

Thiamine (B1)

(2%) 0.019 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

(2%) 0.024 mg

Niacin (B3)

(1%) 0.18 mg

Vitamin B6

(8%) 0.1 mg

Folate (B9)

(4%) 14 μg

Vitamin C

(1%) 1 mg

 

Minerals

Calcium

(2%) 16 mg

Iron

(2%) 0.28 mg

Magnesium

(4%) 13 mg

Manganese

(7%) 0.148 mg

Phosphorus

(4%) 27 mg

Potassium

(6%) 266 mg

Sodium

(0%) 1 mg

Zinc

(1%) 0.05 mg

Units     μg = micrograms • mg = milligrams

IU = International units

Method

 

Loquats are often best skinned, although it depends on the variety and what you are going to do with them whether you do or not. 

In some varieties the skins are quite tough, and some also have a slightly hairy texture like a peach, which means the skin is better removed.

The pips have to be removed.  The seeds (pips) of the plant are slightly poisonous, containing small amounts of cyanogenic glycosides (including amygdalin) which release cyanide when digested, though the low concentration and bitter flavour normally prevent enough being eaten to cause harm

Jams, jellies, preserves - The loquat has a high sugar, acid, and pectin content, which means it makes good jams, jellies and preserves. 

 

Fresh - The fruit can be eaten fresh.

Poached - The fruit is exceptionally nice if very lightly poached in light syrup and served with double cream or ice cream [home made of course]. Firm, slightly immature fruits are best poached.

Wine - Loquats can also be used to make light wine. It is fermented into a fruit wine.

Liqueurs - In Italy nespolino liqueur is made from the seeds, reminiscent of nocino and amaretto, both prepared from nuts and apricot kernels. The drinks are prepared from varieties that contain only small quantities of cyanogenic glycosides (such as Mogi and Tanaka), so there is no risk of cyanide poisoning.

Chicken and loquats

Serve with wholegrain rice

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

olive oil

8 whole, peeled garlic cloves

1 glass Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine

1 ½ cup homemade chicken stock

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 lemon, thinly sliced

2 cups halved & seeded RIPE loquats

1/8th cup of capers, drained

5 springs of thyme

 

​Preheat oven to 375° F.

​Heat a heavy casserole over medium-high heat. While it heats, sprinkle the chicken breasts with salt and pepper on both sides. Add just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, and add the chicken.

​Cook on one side for about 3 minutes or until seared and lightly browned. Flip over and sear the other side for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and continue cooking for another 3 minutes or until the garlic begins to become tender.

​Add the wine, bring to a boil, and let cook until the wine reduces by half, about 5 minutes.

​Add the broth, shallots, lemon, loquats, and thyme sprigs. Bring to a simmer then cover and remove to the oven.

​Braise until the chicken is just tender.

Optionally sprinkle with capers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightly poached loquats stuffed with goats cheese, or cottage cheese, or a soft herbal cheese with just a drizzle of honey.

 

 

 

 

 

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