I’m still learning about what it means to live in Texas. I never knew cactus was edible (or even BBQ’d) until I’d been here a while. Cactus “leaves” as well as the purple “fruit” called prickly pear! Once your brain stops fighting the urge to shrivel up and die from the heat, you can see the glorious variety of locally grown food.
When we bought our first home our friends K&R gave us a plant. K said to plant it anywhere and it should grow just fine. At the time I had no intentions of growing much in my new clay and rock bed aka back yard so the gift was plopped in a hole the first place I could dig into the soil. There it sat, all alone along the back fence of the yard. This little gal almost met her maker when the fence was ripped out and replaced by higher-than-standard fencing. She grew a bit each year without so much as a drink of water from me.
This spring there was fruit.
Fruit that was astringent and sweet. This fruit reminded me of crab apples I grew up eating on the farm. But the flesh was softer than an apple and yellow. The neighbourhood birds flock to feast on the small clusters of mysterious golden fruit. I remained puzzled for a few days until I saw a post on the AFBA Facebook page about Loquat Jelly. Loquat? It that what they’re called?!? I have the Golden Nugget variety which is supposed to taste like apricot.
Now that I know what these are called, I made jam!
I followed the recipe for jam on the Ball No-Sugar mini package (it’s for two 8 oz jars) and used water, fresh lemon juice, loquats, and honey. Since the pectin formula does not rely on a bunch of sugar you can adjust the jam to your taste. I’ve found this method makes the fruit sing and you won’t have a sugar buzz from eating you jam with toast. It’s best to carefully follow the directions on the package when it comes to home-made jams, trust me I’ve made some weird stuff trying to wing it.