Loquat & Lillet Spritz
The humble Loquat…somewhere, somehow it has become Southern California’s most prominent yet most misunderstood backyard fruit. You’ve most likely seen these trees, usually loaded with clusters of small peachy orange fruit between late March and Late May - and often times left on the branch to rot.
A missed opportunity I think!
When I recently got my hands on some fruit, I was excited to learn that it tastes like a mix between apricot and green grape. Slightly sour and tannic with a sweet finish. It’s curious that most people either don’t know what these fruits are…and if they do, certainly don’t seem to know what do with them.
I think it’s time to change that! And what better way to peak the people’s interest with a Springtime spritz that will have you wondering why all these fruits are left to waste (and hopefully have you knocking on your neighbors door asking if you can help take a basket or two off their hands).
When trying to understand what to do with this fruit, I put into my mind that the flavor is a variation of apricots - and apricots love cardamon. I also assumed the funky grape finish might also lend itself to cardamon for a delicate floral pop…perfect for Spring through summer time spritzing. Am I right!? Yes.
To maximize the loquat flavors (I’ve found that some are not as juicy as others depending on how long they’ve been on the tree) I roasted them whole - and similar to more common stone fruits, this helped release a deeper flavor than just simply stewing them in sugar…which we’ll also do, because what cocktail doesn’t love a little kick of sweetness? Especially when paired with a dry aperitif.
By turning this confusing find into a fruity and floral syrup/compote (yes the consistency is definitely hybrid status), we’ve unleashed a whole lot of potential for its final use. Paired with Lillet in a cocktail, it feels sophisticated - but if you were to swirl this into your homemade vanilla ice cream recipe it would come off as funky, dare I say exotic. Some prefer to simply deseed and dehydrate as a snack. No rules here! We’re just looking for new ways to use new ingredients - and with delightful outcomes, I might add!
Here’s to championing the unknown! I hope the next time you see some of this fruit you’ll be curious enough to experiment with it! And if you are an owner of such tree - you now have no excuse!
Let me know your favorite way to eat them below! To the Loquat!
Loquat & Lillet Spritz Cocktail
2 oz Lillet Blanc
1 1/2 oz Loquat Cardamon Compote (directions below)
Float of sparkling water (and/or dry prosecco)
LOQUAT COMPOTE INGREDIENTS (Yields enough for 2-3 cocktails depending on use)
6-8 loquats (about 1 cup)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
5 green cardamon pods
Remove Loquats from stem and bake whole until golden and perfumed, about 30-45 minutes. Remove and let cool before removing skin and seeds. In a sauce pan add sugar, water, cardamon pods and chopped loquat fruit. Summer until sugar dissolves and fruit begins to break apart resembling a thick jam. Remove cardamon pods and allow to cool before using. Compote can be stored in a sterile sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add Lillet and loquat compote. Shake well and strain into a glass filled with ice. Top with sparkling water, a dry sparkling wine…or both! Think of this as a substitute for your usual summer spritz and adjust the ratios as you desire!
No loquats?! No problem. This recipe can be swapped out with summer stone fruit such as apricots or nectarines and enjoyed well into late summer. Cheers!