Friday, June 8, 2012

Last of the Loquats: Loquat Butter Take Two

Our last harvest of loquats for 2012 (and a single "Mystery Fruit").
It was with sadness and a sense of relief that I realized that our loquat season was coming to an end for the year.  We've had a great time harvesting our loquats to make loquat butter and loquat leather, in addition to eating pounds of them straight off the tree.

With all this loquat-eating, we've learned a few things about the two loquat trees in our yard.  We discovered that the fruit from these trees is quite different.  Everyone, including our local flock of wild parrots, prefers the fruit from The South Tree and it was picked clean almost a month ago.  But up until recently, we still had a lot of ripe loquats on The North Tree.

It was a challenge to figure out what to do with the last of the loquat harvest, but after much consideration I decided to borrow the dehydrator from the Master Food Preserver program and make one last batch of loquat leather.  My youngest daughter is the only person (besides me) who'll eat the stuff, but she REALLY loves it.  And I REALLY wanted to perfect my recipe for loquat leather before the season ended.

Unfortunately, I made a fatal mistake-- a mistake I often make and don't realize until it's too late-- I decided to use a new method for turning whole loquats into loquat pulp.

The first time I made loquat leather I used the food processor to pulverize the loquat flesh.  I removed the seeds, but not the skin or the tough membrane that coats the seeds.  It worked well, but the pulp had a bit more "texture" than I would have liked.  The second time around I decided to use a fancy new piece of equipment I'd just mail-ordered-- my variety pack of Kitchen Aid accessories, including the fruit & vegetable strainer attachment.  I'd been told it was great for making tomato sauce and for preparing fruits for jams and jellies.  It seemed perfect for making loquat leather.

Wrong.

This attachment, which I'm sure has many valuable uses, is no good for making loquat leather.  Oddly enough, the very quality that makes it great for jelly-making makes it useless for making leather because it takes out too much of the fibrous pulp-- exactly the stuff I'd been trying to get rid of.  So this lovely attachment did what I wanted it to do.  It's just that was I wanted to do was a really bad idea.  And after I started, I realized that I'd "wasted" too carefully seeded loquats to make a large batch of loquat leather.  I could have made a small batch instead, but I felt guilty about throwing away this delicious sweet nectar, even if it was no good for loquat leather.

I made another batch of loquat butter instead.  And then I used the dehydrator to make strawberry and apple leathers.  (But that's another story.)
My final batch of loquat butter (from The South Tree) for 2012.
I'll post the final recipes for the two versions of loquat leathers and the loquat butter once I can sort out all my notes from the different batches and put them together in a cohesive form.

For now, I will say that the last batch of loquat butter was pretty good, but not as good as the first.  I believe this is due entirely to the fact that the fruit from The North Tree is simply inferior to the fruit of The South Tree.  I'd made a blend of the loquats from both trees for the first batch and that produced a richer loquat butter.  It was more acidic, but also stronger in flavor, which made the loquat butter from The South Tree fruit both tangier and also sweeter.  We're not tossing out any of the loquat butter I made.  It's all pretty good.  But I may hide a few jars of the loquat butter from The South Tree for special occasions.