Japanese plums or loquats, are ripening all across New Orleans now, and while this attractive sub-tropical tree is very ornamental, the fruit is also highly favored by many, it still remains both under-appreciated and under-utilized by many people fortunate enough to have their own tree bearing the fruit. This fruit is far too tender to withstand shipping, and is only available to those who are fortunate enough to live where the trees can be grown.
Undoubtedly, one excellent way to use the fruit is to make Japanese plum jam. These jars of sweet fruit can then be spread on bread, biscuits, waffles, pancakes or even French toast throughout the year. Homemade jams and jellies are also a gift worth giving when the holidays arrive, as these treats are much tastier than the most exclusive gourmet brands, and made with your own fruit as well. A jar would definitely be appreciated by anyone who is a fan of these attractive evergreen fruiting trees.
Japanese plums also carry excellent health benefits, and are regarded as an excellent source of vitamin A, which is important for vision & dental health. Just like most fruits, it has ample fiber. Japanese plums also contain vitamins B, C, and B17 in addition to the vitamin A..
The history of what we know as the Japanese plum is lost in time, but it is believed to have actually originated in China, and then been taken to Japan by early traders. From Japan, it spread across the world, The seeds within the relatively small fruits can range from a single seed to as many as 4 seeds, all dark brown in color and smooth. For the gardeners, there are grafted varieties available, which produce fruit more consistent in quality than that of seedlings (trees grown from actual seeds without grafting a known variety.) They are apparently fairly hardy—all of the trees I have been able to observe have a healthy crop of fruit despite the bitterly cold weather over the holidays this past winter.
• 6 c. pitted fruit, halved with blossom ends removed (trimmed of bad spots, etc.)
• 6 c. sugar
• 1 pkg. pectin
• ¼ c. lemon juice
• 2 c. water
Put the loquats into a medium sized pot and add the water and lemon juice. Cook slowly over medium heat until fruit is soft. Mash with potato masher to create a more pulpy and less distinct mass, keeping some chunks intact. Bring to a boil, add pectin and return to a rapid boil. Add sugar all at once (this is very important!) Return to a boil, and return to a hard boil for exactly 1 minute. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam. Pour into hot sterilized ½ pint jars, clean rims, and screw lids on. Process in hot water bath for 15 minutes. Makes 6 half pint jars of jam. Do not try to double recipe!