It is May, and so loquats are in season.
Well, not here in Sweden they aren’t, as the loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica) is subtropical and native to Southern China, but they are in season in cardboard boxes that appear in market stalls, usually the ones owned by immigrants. Immigrants, because very few locals would know what a loquat was, left alone figure they ought to order a box to sell, or imagine who’d buy one. Or three. Or, if you are like me, maybe half a kilo.
What is so special about loquats? Well, aside from the fact that no, they aren’t at all related to kumquats (Citrus japonica), and their short season (a month, maybe two at most) combined with the fact that they don’t keep, they are wonderfully delicious. Like honey mangoes (and I should write about those at some point when I can find a few), these are fruits which Westerners often fail to notice, since they are seasonal and appear in markets and import shops, but never (that I’ve seen) in chain supermarkets. And, like honey mangoes, they are well worth the effort of picking up and trying.
Loquats have a firm, slighly fluffy edible skin (fluff can be rubbed off as you wash and dry the fruit), enclosing firm and very slightly fibrous flesh (less so than that of stone fruit), and can be eaten by just biting pieces off. The fruit usually contain 1-3 large hard seeds, which are not edible. Everything else aside from those and the stalk, is, and the flavour is reminiscent of apricots (which they resemble in size and colour as well), but less acidic. There is a faint, very delicate aroma, but it is not usually detectable until you bite into the fruit.
Like many fruit in general, loquats are rich in vitamins (A in particular) and dietary fibre, and are a supremely healty and good for you thing to eat. This is not the main reason why I recommend them (or indeed any foodstuff), but it certainly doesn’t hurt to know that they are nutritious as well.
Anyhow, the proof is in the pudding. If you like apricots, peaches, and less-acidic sorts of citrust, you are likely to like these, and they must be had while they last. So go out there, find and buy a few, and enjoy. Preferably as soon as you get home and can wash them – they will keep for a few days in the fridge, but not much more than that.