Urban forage hiding in plain sight

Urban forage hiding in plain sight

The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) does not grow wild in northern California, but these delicious fruit trees can be found growing in backyards and neighborhoods. 

Distantly related to roses, apples, quince and pear, loquats have grown in Japan for thousands fuzz. Three to five large jewel-like seeds cluster at the center of years, though they are most likely native to the hill regions of southern China. So it’s not the first fruit you would expect to see in the suburban cul-de-sacs of Northern California. Yet here it thrives. 

The fruits are the shape and size of a fig, ripe when the fruit is deep golden yellow. The peel is covered in a fine velvet of each fruit. The seeds are not edible. The fruit tastes sweet and somewhat like a tropical plum. You can eat them right off the tree or peel them easily. 

Loquat fruits are ripe in early summer. Take a stroll through your neighborhood and keep your eyes peeled for a medium sized tree with yellow fruits and large oval leaves. This exotic fruit could be hiding in plain sight.

Loquat Tartletts

10 Loquats, ripe, peeled if desired

1⁄2 cup Pennyroyal Farms Laychee

1⁄2 teaspoon lemon zest

1⁄2 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon superfine sugar

Dash cinnamon

Small thyme sprigs for garnish

Prepared phyllo dough tartlett shells

Pick or gather ripe loquat fruits. Rinse, and using a kitchen towel, rub the light fuzz from the outside of the fruits. Alternatively peel and remove the skins. Using a paring knife cut the loquat in half in a circular motion. Three to five large seeds are within each fruit. Remove seeds and fruit blossom end. 

Mix Laychee, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar together in a bowl until well combined. Using a spoon place a small dollop in the bottom of each phyllo shell. Add a loquat half, pressing it down into the soft cheese mixture. Place another small dollop inside the fruit and sprinkle with cinnamon. 

Place shells in the broiler until just caramelized, 3-4 minutes. Once done, add a small thyme sprig to the center of each tartlet. Enjoy!