Loquats are small, sweet and succulent fruits with thin, sometimes downy, yellow to orange skin. They come in round, oval or pear shapes and contain large brown seeds. The loquat tree is indigenous to southeast China, but it has been grown in California since the 1870s, mostly for the ornamental effect of its bold, tropical foliage. The loquat tree is unusual because it flowers in the fall then bears fruit in the spring. It is normally bee pollinated.
Fresh loquats are sweet and delicate in flavor and easily peeled when ripe. They keep well in the refrigerator, or they can be used in pies, tarts, jellies and jams or poached in a spiced liquid. Different varieties can have white or orange flesh. Expect to see loquats at the farmers market starting in May.