Friday, April 20, 2012

Lavender Loquat Jelly - Food & Community

People around Austin are feeling the love for loquats this spring. Those mysterious orange orbs decorating the trees all over Austin are actually edible! A mild winter allowed these winter blooming trees to bear spring fruits in abundance. People are curious about how to enjoy loquats and it seems that everyone is talking about them. At my son's school, recipes were shared over coffee. I sat and chatted with neighbors and farmers over possible jelly flavor combinations using fresh mint from the garden or which sweetener might work best. I read Edible Austin's list of 5 Things to Do with Loquats in their monthly newsletter...loquat cobbler cups or simple syrup, anyone? 

 Several of our neighbors were kind enough to let us lighten their trees in exchange for the promise of loquat jelly. I called my sister, a Master Gardener in California, to see if she had any ideas on loquat jelly making. She remembered that my stepmom used to make loquat jelly when we were young. When I called my stepmom to see if she had any recipes,  she laughed telling me that there were several jars of loquat jelly made with her mother's help at our childhood home. I was just too young to remember. It sounds a lot like a story I remember of making too many sugar cookies with her sister at Christmas one year...

When I told Clay that we could pick the loquats in the neighborhood, he was almost halfway out the door ready to harvest before I could finish my sentence. Harvesting is, after all, one of his favorite things to do in spring. He wanders our backyard garden each morning in search of anything ready to pick. Many times over the last few weeks he has come into the house beaming saying, "I love spring!". 

So, we headed over and filled up our berry picking box with tart, not-quite-ripe loquats and headed home to make our first batch of jelly. The taste of a loquat is almost that of a sour lemon when it isn't completely ripe, so when mixed with honey in a jam it has sort of a lemonade jelly sort of flavor. 

Clay with his kid-safe knife, helped to slice the loquats in half, remove the stems and seeds before simmering in the pot, a task he later told me was SO MUCH FUN! I just enjoyed making something special with him by my side and having him experience making something delicious out of a fruit that might have gone unnoticed.

I suggest spreading some loquat jelly on Elana's Gluten and Dairy-Free Biscuits. We made ours with honey instead of agave and you could use lavender or orange blossom honey as well. Or, try some loquat jelly into your favorite yogurt or dairy-free yogurt. The honey gives it a very spreadable texture. 

Lavender Loquat Jelly
Yields 6 Pint Jars of Jelly

One large bowl of rinsed loquats (you can use any extra juice for other recipes or drink over ice) - you will want 4 cups of loquat juice for this recipe ***Look for ripe golden orange loquats without bruising or damage if possible. If you prefer tart loquats, pick them when they are a yellowish-orange color. 

4 teaspoons Pomona's Pectina 100% pure citrus pectin (available at Wheatsville)

4 teaspoons calcium water (included in Pomona's Pectin box. Mix 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder with 1/2 cup water in a small, clear jar and store in fridge)

1/2 -1 cup of local honey depending on desired sweetness, we love Goodflow Wildflower Honey, Round Rock Honey or Imagine Lavender Honey or infuse with culinary lavender wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with butcher's twine before you boil the juice

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice


Begin by preparing your kitchen so that you can move seamlessly through the process. You can also start the loquats simmering and spend that time preparing everything else for the jelly making! You will want an uninterrupted 30 minutes of time once you start the jelly making. 

6 pint size mason jars or 12 half pint mason jars (make sure they are new lids or use the Tattler reusable lids available at Wheatsville

one large pot for sterilizing jars, rings and lids

one large pot for simmering halved loquats and water to make juice

one heavy bottomed pot for making jelly

jelly strainer for the juice set over a large bowl (as shown in photo)


small bowl for combining pectin & honey

jar lifting tongs for lifting hot jars out of pot

tongs for squeezing loquats in the jelly strainer

clean rubber gloves

one jelly roll sheet or cake pan for finished jelly jars to make them easy to move

non-slip cutting board and knife for halving loquats

bowl for seeds and stems

measuring cups and spoons

clean handtowels, one for wiping lids and rings for jars and the other for wiping the jar lids

skimming tool or bamboo skimmer/spider in case you have bubbles in your jars before sealing them

1. Wash your hands. Fill the large pot 3/4 full with water, then put the clean mason jars, lids and rings in the large pot. Make sure they are completely submerged in the water. Bring the water to a boil and make sure the water stays hot until you are ready to fill the jars with jelly. Prepare the calcium water needed for the Pomona's Pectin by combining 1/2 teaspoon calcium powder with 1/2 cup of filtered water in a small, clear jar. Follow the directions in the Pomona's Pectin box for storing the calcium water. Set aside. 

2. Begin by taking your bowl of loquats and cutting them in half lengthwise and removing the seeds and stems and any bruised portions. Collect the halved and seeded loquats in a bowl. Put the seeds and stems in another bowl to compost (or plant!). 

3. In a large pot, add the loquats and enough water to cover them. Turn the pot on high heat until the water boils, then turn down to a simmer and let them simmer until the liquid reduces by about half. It could take an hour or so. You can also use a potato masher to get more of the juice out once they are soft, just push gently so that the hot juice doesn't burn you. 

4. Make sure your jelly strainer is placed securely on a bowl. Using your ladle, ladle a small amount of loquats and juice at a time into the jelly strainer and with your rubber gloves on, use your tongs to squeeze the liquid out of the strainer into the bowl below, careful to do this gently so that you do not burn yourself. Repeat until you have squeezed out all of the juice possible. You will need about 8 cups of the loquat and juice mixture from the pot to yield 4 cups of loquat juice.  Once you have measured out 4 cups of loquat juice, set the bowl aside.

5. With your rubber gloves on, use the jar lifter tongs to safely remove the jars, lids and rings from the boiling water, being sure to pour any water in the jars out before filling. Set your clean, sterilized jars and rings on a jelly roll pan or cake pan. Make sure everything is ready to go so that you are ready to ladle the jelly into the jars when the jelly is ready. 

6.  In a small bowl, combine 1/2 -1 cup of honey (depending on desired sweetness and the sweetness of the loquats) with 4 teaspoons Pomona's Pectin and set aside.

7. Ladle 4 cups of loquat juice and 1/4 cup of lemon juice into the small heavy bottomed pot. (If you would like, infuse the culinary lavender bag at this point for 15 minutes and then remove). Add the honey and pectin mixture and stir rapidly as the mixture comes to a boil. Allow it to boil 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat. Skim off any bubbles or foam that appear at the top. 

8. Using the ladle, fill each jar leaving 1/4" headspace at the top of the jar. Wipe rims clean and screw on the two piece lids. Using the jar lifter tongs, carefully place jars in the boiling water for no longer than 10 minutes. After that point the pectin starts to break down. Make sure the jars are completely submerged in the water. 

9. The pectin starts to gel when it cools. Set on a counter for 2 hours then place in fridge for 24 hours before enjoying. You'll hear the "ping" of the jars sealing within about 10 minutes of taking them out of the water bath and the lids should be sucked down in the middle if they have a good seal. 

***Because this recipe uses honey instead of sugar, the Pomona's Pectin instructions dictate that it lasts up to one year unopened, although the flavor and color may start to decrease after 6 months. Enjoy within 3 weeks of opening and store in fridge. 

Check out some other great ways to use your loquats at Hip Girl's Guide to Homemaking


  1. Thanks Sommer for sharing. An interesting step #8. I've never put the filled jars back into boil water. Do you know chemically what this step is doing? I'd be interested to know.

    When Lizzie does her preserves, she puts the pectin into the fruit mixture and cooks that.

    Is that a similar step?

    Will Clark

  2. Excellent step by stem, Sommer! As a virgin preserver, I feel completely armed with these instructions to forage on ahead with confidence!

  3. I can't wait to taste these flavors together. I think you're really on to something there. And, friend. GORGEOUS kitchen.