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Fruit from the Orient

Garden 1I HAVE an amazing fruit tree in my garden which just keeps fruiting, year after year.

It is known in Spain and the Canaries as Nispero, but in English it is a Loquat. But the tree’s proper name is the Eriobotrya japonica, from the Rosaceae family, which is the Rose family.

The tree can reach heights of 35ft but, generally, because of the soft branches breaking naturally, it self-prunes and keeps its height in check.

My tree stands about 8ft, needs little in the way of care and has few pests and diseases. The only problem I have noticed is the bruises on the skin of the fruit.

But I generally pick them as they ripen, and, by doing this, the fruits don’t get a chance to get damaged.

I have picked my second punnet of Nisperos this week and I have baked a cake. It was a regular sponge-cake mix, put into a cake tin. And at the very last minute I added the fruit, skinned and chopped, which prevents it from sinking straight to the bottom of the cake.

After baking it in an oven for 45-60mins at 180ºC, I let it cool, removed it from the tin, sliced and served – yummy!

The tree is covered in a fuzzy coating, which, to the untrained eye, can look like a disease. The only area free from this fuzziness is the trunk, which is smooth.

The fruits of the tree are also covered in this coating, which just rubs off when you pick the fruits – much like a peach but finer.

The skin and pulp of the orange fruit is edible, but inside there are usually two large brown seeds. These must not be eaten because

I have actually seen recipes for Nispero jam, which includes a few of the seeds, but I wouldn’t advise it.

The Nisperos have high amounts of pectin, which make them an excellent choice for jam – and I can vouch for this because I have made it many times. The fruits have a lovely, sweet flavour and remind me of yellow plums.

The Nispero’s origin is somewhat disputed, but it was China or Japan. It is grown en masse in both these countries but in China they tend to grow it for the flowers, which, by the way, are white, smell delicious and make a wonderful perfume.

In Japan, they produce lots of the fruits and include them in nearly all of their recipes – and they also make a tea (infusion) with the leaves, which they call Biwa-cha.

I have tried it, and I prepare the leaves by picking them new and either drying and powdering up, or using fresh. A few pieces of the leaves in a teapot and strained into a cup after 5-10 minutes of brewing makes for a pleasant infusion.

It has many health benefits: it’s good for the complexion, and is also an anti-inflammatory and a general energy booster.

It is also said to have other benefits to do with metabolism and improving insulin resistance. So, all in all, an amazing leaf.

The fruits have great nutritional value as well. They are a source of calcium, potassium, fibre and vitamin A, and they help with the digestion, plus respiratory problems.

Growing the tree could not be easier. You can grow it from one of the seeds inside the fruit, but it takes a very long time and may never fruit.

The so best way is to buy a tree from a reputable garden centre. They cost around 15-20 euros and are perfect for those gardeners who have difficulty in making plants or trees grow because they are almost impossible to kill. You can grow them in large pots on a patio, as well as straight into the earth.

My own Nispero is in the front of our garden, which is a windier place than at the rear of the house and it manages very well.

Plant it up to the little knuckle, but no further or you will get rogue shoots growing and competing with the main tree.

They need no pruning, although you can prune if you wish. And they don’t need lots of feeding, or that much water once they are established.

The blossom has a wonderful scent, so if you put your tree near a sitting area it would be enjoyed. And the fruits are easily harvested, either snipped off or twisted.

I do hope you do invest in a Loquat (Nispero) tree because it is a super all-rounder and well worth a spot in the garden.

 

 

 

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Posted by on Mar 14 2014. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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