Not too many families have a loquat story, but mine does. My father and his wife loved their loquat tree. It was a prolific provider. Year in and year out it produced beautiful fruit. We made jam every summer. My step-mom is an amazing maker of tarts and her loquat jam served as the special glaze that set her desserts apart. In 2008 a massive wildfire roared through their Santa Barbara canyon. It ravaged their property, burning a secondary structure that had been my family’s weekend house, leaving their modest home standing but destroying every tree, and living thing that had surrounded them. My father had planted most of the trees as seedlings after the Coyote Fire, which burned our home to the ground in 1975. My father and step-mom lost so many things in the 2008 fire, it is difficult to list them all, but for some reason that loquat tree was one of the hardest losses to bear. Friends came together and helped them replant, including a friend of ours who gave them a new loquat tree. This spring we had access to a different loquat tree (it’s a long story that I’ll get to in time). It was our first foray back into our annual loquat jam making. We made three batches yesterday. It felt really good to be back as a family making jam!
Loquats are a problematic fruit. You need to pick them and then make them into jam immediately. They have absolutely no shelf life off of the tree. They will literally rot overnight, even in the refrigerator. We pick them, bring them inside, pit and skin them and process them into jam all at once. Once made into jam they have a lovely color and flavor a bit like an apricot, but slightly more exotic. They also make an excellent glaze for tarts. If you have a loquat tree and have never made the fruit into jam, I highly recommend trying it at least once. It’s absolutely delicious, and the color of the jam is spectacular.
- 6 cups loquats, pitted and skinned
- 7 cups sugar
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons butter
- 1 package Sure Jell
Sterilize your jars and lids. We sterilize ours by running them through the dishwasher. Do not remove them until you are ready to fill them. The lids and rims should be boiled on the stovetop and not touched until ready for use. Any other implements (spoons, funnels) should also be dropped in boiling water before they come in contact with the fruit.
As soon as you cut the fruit, place it in a large bowl with the lemon juice so that the fruit does not discolor. Once you have all of the fruit prepared, toss the fruit with the pectin and put it in a large pot and bring to a boil. Once it is at a rolling boil take it off of the heat and stir in the sugar.
Put it back on the heat and bring back to a boil. Let it boil for 1 minute. Add the butter. Stir to blend. Skim the top of any bubbles/scum (keep the bubbles for home use). Ladle the jam into already sterilized jars. Don’t ladle past the rim, stop right below the beginning of the lip of the jar. Try not to get jam on the rim. If you do, use a clean cloth and wipe the rim before you put on the lid.
Screw on the tops and the lids tightly. Invert immediately. Leave inverted for about 1 hour and then flip over. Let the jam cool before you move the jars. The jars should ping as they cool. If they do not ping the jar has not sealed. Refrigerate this jam and use in the near term.