What's in your garden, Fallbrook?


Last updated 6/6/2019 at 2:40pm

Maggie Stewart

Special to the Village News

Today is the day to be domestic and to practice my farm-to-table mantra. I need to create something with loquats. You know, those luscious yellow-orange fruit clusters with beautiful, large green ribbed leaves that are everywhere in Fallbrook this month.

Here's a little background on loquats. This member of the rose family made its way from China to Japan, India and Israel where they hopped over to the Mediterranean countries and arrived in Fallbrook. When they flower, the aroma is reminiscent of ginger and vanilla. The fruit has a melon texture with a sweet tart flavor. Some say it is a cross between a mango and a peach. I say it's delicious.

This morning I picked loquats, oranges and lemons. I purchased some vanilla and ginger. I wanted the flower aroma back in my cooking. I scrubbed, cut, peeled and zested until my hands were all discolored and "pruney." I gently made two 5-pound batches into two pots with freshly squeezed lemon juice, orange juice, grated fresh ginger and scraped vanilla bean.

What were the proportions? I really don't know, since I've been cooking fruit butter for 35 years. If there is too much liquid, I cook it down more and the flavor becomes more intense. My canning attempts are never the same from time to time. Whatever is in my backyard is what goes into the pot. If you are a beginning canner, butters are a good choice.

I've been cooking for about two hours now. The color is a glorious burnt orange, with speckles of vanilla bean dancing through the orange sunset. I add a bit more lemon and orange zest for texture and a deeper flavor. A little more cooking and the texture, flavor and aroma are just right. Oh my, it is good!

It's time to spoon Loquat Ginger Vanilla Butter into sterilized jars and process in a hot water bath. This batch created 10 1-pint jars that are home grown, hand-picked and prepared with love. There is no substitute.

Want to try something simple? Make a tea from the leaves. Asian cooks have used them for centuries in traditional medicine and herbal teas. The leaf releases antioxidants and tastes like green tea. Wash off the fine hairs on the bottom of the leaf with a vegetable brush before steeping in boiling water. A cinnamon stick added to the process makes a delicious and beneficial tea. Today is the day to experiment, before they are gone.

Maggie Stewart works for CR Properties Real Estate Services and is a family farm-to-table specialist. She can be reached at (760) 703-4788.

Maggie Stewart photos

Loquats are originally from southeast China but grow well in Fallbrook.


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