Jamming

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“Doc” picking loquats

I love to make jelly, marmalade and preserves but I’m definitely a novice at making jam, especially loquat jam. But “the proof is in the pudding,” I think. So before I forget my recipe, I’ll tell you what I put in this delicious loquat jam, and the pain I went through to achieve this apple butter texture spread. Along the way, I’ll “jam” a little about other fruits.

First of all, for those who aren’t familiar with loquat fruit trees, here are a few facts and observations. The loquat is also known as Japanese plum. Trees, generally, are about fifteen feet tall at maturity and, in our area, seem to be basically ornamental trees. I’ve never seen a loquat orchard. The leaves are beautifully veined and are elegant like that of the magnolia, in fact about the size of magnolia minimum leaves. The leaves, a rich dark green, are a wonderful showcase for the marble-size orange fruit which grows in clusters of three to six.

I’ve never seen so many loaded loquats as we have in Grady County this year. We had a couple of trees at our home of forty-two years and never had enough fruit to have to wonder what to do with it. Our neighbor across the street here has a row of loquats along his back fence. I had not noticed in previous years his trees being loaded as they are now, gorgeous clusters of peachy orange fruit shining from amongst lush foliage. I enjoyed the sight every time I went to the mailbox, but considered they probably didn’t taste very good, equating them to the palm fruit that ripens later in the summer.

Here’s a deviation concerning the palm fruit. We had lots of palm trees at our former home that we very appropriately named Lane of Palms. All dozen trees were rich every year with great hanging boughs thick with fruit, like Caleb and Joshua’s cluster of grapes they brought from Canaan. The fruit wasn’t quite good enough to eat, we all decided, though the bees certainly loved it. A great branch would fall, the orange globes scatter on the ground, and the bees would go to work. Being a jelly maker, I reasoned that if little hard green sour crabapples and tiny hard seedy mayhaws made good jelly, surely this fruit that was “almost good” would be nice jelly material. By the time I cooked and processed that fruit and filled the jars, I was sick of the starchy sweet smell. The jelly was clear and pretty, a mellow goldy color. But none of us like it. I thought I would have to throw it away but was delighted to find neighbors and friends who really liked it. I gave away all six half-pints and never made anymore.

Back to the loquat.

This fruit, too, is a shade of orange like the palm fruit, and about the same size. But these are delicious! I ate one (after falling down the bank twice in an effort to take a good picture!) and immediately reached for another. My little granddaughter likes them too. By the time she finished snacking on them, there was a pile of pebble size seeds on the counter. For each loquat globe there are one to five of these seeds which look like some kind of jewel. It’s fascinating the way they pop out of their sweet hiding place when you bite into the fruit.

Henry, our neighbor, said take all the loquats we wanted. So we picked about two gallons. Then I began to consider how to make jam. We wanted to use the most of each little fruit, not just the juice. There is no recipe in the Sure Jell instructions for loquat jam or jelly. Looking online I found several but no good method I liked for processing the fruit. I ended up scalding them and peeling the tough peeling off, like peeling tomatoes. But it was still tedious. It was amazing how little fruit there really was after removing seeds and peeling.

I then liquefied the pulp in the blender. I was encouraged with the resulting slush which looked just like some of those highly healthy smoothies. I finally achieved four cups of product.

The taste of Japanese plum is compared sometimes to that of a peach, sometimes an apricot, or even an apple. I decided to treat it as an apricot. But I wasn’t satisfied with the initial taste I sneaked from the jelly pot so I added sugar, and then pineapple juice.

So–after all this jamming–here is my recipe:

About a gallon of loquats, fully golden, peeled, pitted, and liquefied to make 4 cups

1 Sure Jell packet

5 cups sugar

Juice of one lemon

1 cup pineapple juice

Heat loquat pulp in large pot along with Sure Jell, lemon, and pineapple juice. Let mixture come to a full rolling boil stirring constantly. Add premeasured sugar stirring constantly. When mixture comes again to a full rolling boil, continue stirring for one full minute. Remove from heat. Skim sludge from top (there wasn’t much!) and seal in hot jars.

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The consistency of this jam, as I said before, is like apple butter and has a delightfully light taste. I may have to make more!

 

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