1. Q. I have some orange fruit in a tree in my front yard. It seldom has fruit and does not produce a showy bloom. My neighbor says it is a loquat tree. Is the fruit edible and, if so, how should they be prepared?
A. Are you in luck! My ole mama sent me these recipes JUST FOR YOU! Here they are:
5 cups loquats
1 box fruit pectin
7 cups sugar
Wash fruit well. Cut off both ends and remove seeds if desired. Place fruit in a saucepan with a small amount of water. Cook slowly and mash with a potato masher occasionally until well done. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.
Add the pectin to the fruit and stir well. Let the mixture come to a rolling boil stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add sugar and boil to a rolling boil for 1 minute.
Wash loquats and remove seeds. Place in saucepan and add enough water to barely cover fruit. Cook gently for 10 to 15 minutes, then strain through jelly bag or four layers of cheese cloth. (For greater yield of juice, twist the two ends of the bag in opposite direction until most of the juice is extracted. Then, strain through clean cheese cloth or jelly bag, but do not squeeze or press.) Add the pectin to the juice and stir well. Let the mixture come to a rolling boil stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Add sugar and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute. Use three cups juice to two cups sugar (this makes a tart jelly). Skim and pour boiling hot into jelly glasses, cool a sample of the jelly to insure that it will harden. If not, an additional box of pectin may have to be added and the jelly boiled again. Seal and when jars are cold, test for seal.
2. Q. My loquats (also called Japanese plums) are blooming. I am told that the insects pollinating the blooms are spreading a disease called fire blight. Can fire blight be controlled in loquat by dusting or spraying?
A. The symptoms of this disease are not evident now. They were observed last spring and summer. It is a bacteria, Erwinia amylovora, common in members of the rose family. It is observed here in loquat, pear, cotoneaster, and pyracantha. Die-back of terminal leaves and stems was common this past growing season. The most effective remedy then was to prune off infected branches with sterilized pruning shears. Now, however, to prevent the spread of this bacteria disease, one can use an antibiotic, such as streptomycin (Agri-strep). It is absorbed by the foliage and is systemic within the leaf. It provides some benefit but is not 100% effective.
Scientists tell us that a bacteria ooze on infected plants is spread during warm weather by rain, dew, and insects. The insects continue the spread of the disease from blossom to blossom. Prevention may be practiced by pruning out infected areas to avoid unsightly plants later.
3. Q. The last time I made loquat jelly, it came out too thin, but made an excellent ice cream topping. I don't want it to come out like jello, just nice jelly. I have made great loquat jelly, just seems to be a shot in the dark process to determine the correct amount of pectin.
A. You could add another box of pectin and boil again to make the jelly firmer. The pH needs to be around 3.2 - 3.5. Loquats may be low in acid. If so, the addition of lemon juice (see other recipes which recommend the addition of lemon juice to get the amount) will help.
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