Well, it's almost May and all those loquat trees in my community still have fruit on them, but they won't for much longer and I want to make the most of these sweet tart little fruits that are so fragile you'll probably never find them on display in a market. It took me a couple of morning dog walks to collect almost three pounds of fruit and I decided to make jam with them. By the time I seeded the loquats, I ended up with just a tad over a pound.
I decided to pair the loquats with fresh ginger. And, still looking for even more flavor, I added a couple of tablespoons of this marvelous fennel pollen blend I use as my secret weapon when I bake apple pies. It's Divine Desserts Seasoning, produced by Pollen Ranch for Chef Bernard Guillas. I love the mix of spices with the fennel, like cayenne pepper, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, and clove. Perfect for the jam.
The process for making the jam is simple. Seed and trim the ends of the loquats (no need to remove the skin). Combine the fruit with sugar, flavors, and water in a large, heavy pot. Bring to a boil, skim any impurities, and reduce the heat to a simmer. Let it cook down for about an hour and a half. Prep your jars, fill them, and place the jam jars in a water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, let them sit in the water for another five minutes, and then remove to the counter on a dish towel to cool overnight. With any luck, the lids will pop to let you know they're properly sealed. That's it. Then you have this luscious spread with a tropical flair that is not just perfect on toast, but as a topping for ice cream and even baked on poultry or pork, or--yum--spread on a slice of pound cake.
Loquat Ginger Jam
Yield: 2 1/2 pints
2 pounds of seeded, trimmed loquats
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons Divine Desserts Seasoning (optional)
1. Roughly chop loquats.
2. Combine all the ingredients in a large, heavy pot. Bring to a boil. Boil for about five minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about an hour and a half. Be sure to regularly stir the mixture and skim any impurities. Use a potato masher or stick blender to create the consistency you want. I like it chunky, but it can also be very smooth.
3. While the jam is cooking, wash and sterilize jars and lids in a large pot of heavily simmering water. Keep the jars in the water and keep the water simmering.
4. When the jam has reduced to the consistency you want, turn off the heat. Remove the jars from the water and fill them with the jam, leaving a half inch of head room and wiping away any smudges in and around the jar.
5. Seal the jar and gently twist the band. Do this with each jar and then return them to the water bath. They should be in actively simmering water for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the bath for another five minutes. Then remove the jars to the counter but out of a draft. To avoid breaking the glass, place the hot jars on a towel. Don't worry if there's water on the lids. It will evaporate. Let the jars alone overnight. Within minutes you should hear popping as the lids seal.