Loquats with one sliced in half
The Loquat Is The Result Of A Spiteful Plant Swap Between 16th-Century Kings
Loquats are a fruit rarely found in the United States, but they’re worth getting to know for their pleasantly tart flavor and unique origin story.
The loquat originated in China before making its way to Europe in 1513 as a gift from the Chinese emperor for Portuguese explorer Jorge Álvares to present to the king.
Álvares gifted the emperor a rose bush, which the emperor took as a poor gift given its thorns and lack of blooms. In spite, Álvares was sent home with the bitter loquat tree.
The gift turned out to be a small blessing, because while the tree produced bitter fruit in China, it thrived in the warm Portuguese climate, developing sweeter fruit.
The fruit is pleasantly tart with a flavor often compared to apricots, peaches, or cherries. However different varieties can be sweeter or even taste like strawberries.
Although rare, loquats may be found at a farmers’ market or online. Once bought, store them in the fridge where they can last up to a month, and avoid eating the poisonous seeds.
The fruit is a good source of provitamin A carotenoids, magnesium, and potassium, and it has long been used in Chinese medicine to reduce inflammation thanks to triterpene acids.