Ask Addie: What are those little orange fruits growing around Austin?

April is upon us, and that means the loquats are here!

What are loquats, you ask?

Also called Japanese plums or nisperos, loquats — not related to kumquats — are a little yellowish orange fruit that grows on trees around Austin. I first had them when I was living in Spain, where you could buy them in the farmers’ markets. Here, however, you have to forage them yourself from ornamental trees planted all over the city. Some neighborhoods have more than others, so if you don’t see them in yours, keep an eye peeled as you drive around town.

Here’s what they look like:

Loquats are a tangy fruit with a large seed inside that have developed sometime of a cult following in Austin. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I’ve been obsessed with loquats for years now, and every year, I do my own little PR campaign so that Austinites know that they are not just edible, but delicious and fun to eat, too. I like to peel the outside and then scrape the flesh with my teeth, but some people pop the whole thing in their mouth, chew around the seeds and then spit them out, much like sunflower seeds.

I made a loquat rosemary simple syrup a few years ago for cocktails. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

 

You can make salsa and marmalade and cocktails and barbecue sauce and all kinds of stuff with them, but beware the big seed inside. It’s not hard to remove, but there’s an inner membrane that is best to peel off, too.

You can forage loquats and eat them straight off the tree or turn them into something delicious. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

 

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