Brandied loquats

All it takes is one ingredient to turn loquats (or any other stone fruit) into a sweet, alcoholic concoction: sugar. This fabulously simple preparation comes from my sister-in-law Ora, who got the basic concept from the Encyclopedia of Country Living. Ora presented us with little containers of brandied loquats for Purim. We couldn’t stop eating them, and we couldn’t believe they were that easy to make.

Now that loquats are finally coming into season, I gave it a try myself. Fortunately, I found some at the Carmel market, because I’d been eying the various loquat trees around town. The season is just beginning, so loquats are still a bit expensive — the least I found was 8 shekels a kilo — but the price will probably come down within the next few weeks, to 3 shekels or so. This is key, because this is a preparation that’s easy to make in bulk, and becomes ready only after a few months — but then lasts for at least a year.

Basically, you rinse the loquats, put them in a clean jar of some sort, and then fill the jar with sugar. Peeling the loquats gives the sugar quicker access, and makes for a smoother eating experience afterward. I couldn’t pack my jar too tightly, so I wound up using 500 grams of sugar for 1 kilo of loquats. Then, you seal the jar, put it in a dark, cool place and let it sit for a few months. The loquats emit juices, the sugar helps them ferment, and lo and behold, you have sweet, alcoholic fruit.

My sister-in-law pointed out that the loquats at the top of the jar — which won’t be completely submerged in alcohol, since they float — turn an ugly brown. I’d recommend putting some sort of glass weight on top of the loquats (a jar, a plate — whatever fits) in order to prevent this.

Anyway, my jar has now been sitting for a week or so. I didn’t peel my loquats, so, the sugar in the bottom half of the jar is just beginning to collect enough liquid to dissolve.

This would also work with other kinds of firm stone fruit, such as peaches, plums or apricots.

Why loquats, by the way? For those of you who have never heard of a loquat, let alone seen one in person, they’re quite common here — Israel’s unofficial national fruit, if you will. Hence, I have many recipes with loquats.

Update: Here’s what the loquats look like 2 1/2 months later. The jar on the left is unpeeled loquats, and the one on the right is peeled loquats.

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