Stop and pick the loquats (shesek, nispero, biwa). Those mother-clusters of oval, orange fruits you see everywhere during may and June are edible indeed. If you pick them, make sure to select only the very orange with brown spots, those are ripe ones. The yellow ones aren’t sweet enough. Before you take some to go, you must eat a bunch right on the spot.
If you never had them before, the way to eat them is like concord grapes. You rub the skin on your jeans to rid of the fuzz (it gives me chills), put your mouth on the opening where the stem was, and suck the sweet juice out while gently squeezing the fruit with your fingers into my mouth. But, hold on, no chewing yet! Before you enjoy their sweet and tarty flesh, you must spit out the big brown pits and their membranes. The skin is edible but is too hard to chew. And as we learned in biology class, anything that is hard to chew is hard to digest.
Honestly, before I came up with this delicious tapioca pudding, I never wanted to make anything with this fruit because I thought it would be a pain to remove the pits and not worth the effort. But I was so wrong. It’s not that tedious and is totally worth it.
You can also make extra of this loquat Gerber and use it like a jam, over almond butter toast or mixing a heaping tablespoon with plain yogurt or oatmeal. The puree will last up to one week in the fridge.
Tapioca pearls are little white balls made from tapioca starch, which is made from cassava root.
Tapioca Pudding with Pureed Loquat
- 20 medium loquats
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 stem of oregano – optional
- 1 star anise – optional
- 7 cups water
- ¾ cup 155g small tapioca pearls
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Remove the stems and cut the brown “belly button” on the bottom of each fruit. Open the fruit with your hands over a medium saucepan, and remove the pits and inner membrane. Put the flesh with the skin on into the saucepan.
- Add the coconut sugar, vanilla extract, star anise, and oregano (if using) to the saucepan along with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, in a separate medium pot, bring 6 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Do not add the tapioca pearls before the water is boiling. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium-high and add the tapioca pearls. Give them a quick stir. Cook for 15 minutes, then turn off the heat. The pearls should appear translucent around the exterior with solid white specks in the center. Cover the pot with a lid and let the pearls sit for another 10 to 15 minutes, until they look completely translucent. It’s normal if a few pearls still have tiny white specks in the center.
- Drain the cooked tapioca pearls and rinse them under cold water. Transfer them to a large bowl filled with cold tap water. Allowing the pearls to sit in cold water helps them cool faster and reduces stickiness. Leave them in the water while you prepare the coconut loquat cream.
- Blend the cooled loquat fruit in a blender until it becomes a smooth puree.
- Pour the coconut milk into the same saucepan used to cook the loquats. Do not cover the saucepan. Bring the coconut milk to a boil, then turn off the heat and let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Pour the cooled coconut milk into the blender with the loquat puree. Blend until well combined.
- Drain the tapioca pearls and drizzle the maple syrup over them. Gently toss the pearls to coat them in the syrup.
- Place the coated tapioca pearls in a medium bowl (preferably with a lid) and strain the coconut loquat cream into the bowl. Stir to combine.
- Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours before serving.