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{Ingredient Guide} Loquat, M'chimcha, M'zah, Zââroura, إسكدنيا


بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

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It's May. 

Spring-time. 

The time for the appearance of a strange little fruit. It's a symbol of tradition. It's a symbol of the resistance to globalization and the resistance of standard tastes. It defies standardization by not be transported over long distances without spoiling.


This fruit is called the loquat. It is also known as the Japanese medlar, Níspero, Japanese plum,  and as Chinese plum. Loquats are a delight of the Algerian spring season.


This little fruit has several different regional names, Kwirsa in Miliana, "El-mollécce" in Oran "m'chim'cha" in Algiers  And  "zââroura","bou-ââdima", "ââdme" or even "m'zah" in other regions. M'zah meaning kernel or seed. Algerian children usually play a game with the seeds.


The loquat is the pride of North Africans and Spaniards. And has been written about by such greats as Cervantes.



Common to all the gardens of northern Algeria, its fruits are eaten almost exclusively by residents of the production areas. Wild loquat is rarely found on the market. In northern Algeria, it is usual to find a medlar tree in the gardens of colonial houses in the outskirts and suburbs of large cities. And notebly my town, Koléa is called the "ville de néfles" or city of loquats.  


  
The Loquat was first discovered in the West by a botanist named Kaempfer in the year 1690. A man named Thunberg discovered it in Japan in 1712. It was planted in Paris in 1784 and in England in 1787. It spread from there all over the world. And has made its way to the North African shores via the French colonial agriculture The French have loved this jewel brought a surplus of it over to the lush Algerian soil, where it has flourished since the early twentieth century.


The loquat tree blends in into the Mediterranean background. It doesn't attract much undue attention. And are often overlooked as it isn't such an attractive fruit. But I guess that just shows you what a vain world we live in.  


Loquat trees grow best in areas with short winters and above freezing temperatures.They can withstand freezes of single digits but will not produce fruit or flowers if temperatures fall below 3° C degrees. Temperatures in the 30°s (C) can also affect loquat foliage and fruit growth.

The loquat is normally pollinated by bees. Some cultivars are self-infertile and others are only partially self-fertile. Flowers of the early and late flushes tend to have abnormal stamens and very little viable pollen. Thinking of flowers and young fruits in the cluster, or clipping off all or part of flower and fruit clusters is sometimes done to enhance fruit size. Under most conditions, the loquat tends to develop an alternate-bearing pattern, which can be modified somewhat by cluster thinning in heavy production years.The loquat trees are evergreens and can reach 30 feet tall. The long, slim leaves grow from 5 to 12 inches long. The underside of the leaf is brown and velvety. Its foliage is dark and bright green evergreen with long, oblong leaves have highly visible veins. The flowers are numerous and creamy white. Each sweet-smelling, white flower has five petals. 

Loquat fruits, growing in clusters, are pyriform fruit, usually only 5 to 6cm in diameter. In botanical terms the fruit are technically berries. Their skin varies from muted yellowish-white to yellow up to orange-yellow. yellow to orange with intermittent brown spots, depending on the variety. The surface may be slightly fuzzy or fluffy, depending on the cultivar.  Thin skin and very fragile. The fruit contains many seeds, big enough and leave little room for the flesh. It has a delightful honey fragrance.

Each fruit contains three to five large brown seeds. They look like a small, smooth-skinned pear-shaped apricot. The taste of the loquat is interestingly enough lush, juicy, pleasantly tangy and refreshing. The loquat has a plum-like consistency, yet it tastes like apricot, and an apple combined with maybe a tiny hint of tangy citrus. It's quite refreshing. Some varieties have a firmer flesh. You can cut them open, easily discard the pits, and eat them out of hand as a snack or dessert, or chop roughly and toss on top of your salad for a sweet burst.


 health benefits 


Not only do they taste delicious and refreshing, the loquat is blessed with many nutritious and health benefits too. The health benefits of loquat are as follows:

  1. Several types of research have revealed that loquat extracts are beneficial in cancer therapies due to its cytokine immune modulation capabilities. Laetrile in loquat is a known anti-cancer agent. Pectin in loquat retains moisture in the colon and thus functions as a bulk laxative. In this way, it helps to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time to toxic substances as well as binding the cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
  2. Loquat is an excellent source of Vitamin A. Vitamin A maintains the integrity of mucous membranes of the skin. Consumption of Vitamin A rich foods prevents lung and cavity cancer. Vitamin A is also crucial for the visual and dental health in a person.
  3. Potassium in loquat is an important component of cell and body fluids and helps to control the heart rate and blood pressure.
  4. Loquat fruit benefits are high as they are an excellent source of
  5. Vitamin B and C. It contains almost all the B complex Vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, Pyridoxine, Folates and Folic acid. It contains minerals like calcium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium and carbohydrates. It also contains monounsaturated fats like omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids. The fruit is also low in cholesterol and calories since it hardly contains any lipids or proteins.
  6. Pectin also reduces blood cholesterol levels by decreasing the absorption in the colon by binding bile acids resulting in its excretion from the body.
  7. Loquat has a good source of minerals like iron, copper, calcium, manganese etc. Manganese is used in the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells whereas iron is required for cellular oxidation and proper blood circulation in the body.
  8. Loquat extracts fight against memory impairment and neurological and oxidative stress.
  9. Loquat leaves contain significant anti-inflammatory and analgesic qualities and is a valuable agent in the treatment of cancer. Loquats leave extract also protects the body against cellular aging. Besides, Loquat leaves are also believed to have a mild restrictive effect on HIV. The leaf contains 2-alpha-hydoxyursolic acid which also contains anti-HIV effects.
  10. Loquats have a mild sedative quality and can be processed into a soothing cough syrup or a paste to relieve from nausea. This paste improves respiratory functions by removing phlegm and making it easier to cough. Loquat leaf is shown to shorten the recovery time from respiratory illness.
  11. Loquats are rich in fiber and are a healthy option for those who want to lose weight. Foods rich in fiber keep the stomach full for a longer period and reduce irregular hunger pangs.
  12. Loquat aids digestion and provides relief to those suffering from digestive problems.
  13. Loquats are a functional food for the prevention of diabetes and hyperlipidemia. Loquats release a set of natural bodily chemicals known as polysaccharides which help to reduce diabetes by increasing insulin production. Its extract also supports pancreas by supplementing insulin production.
These benefits of loquat make it an ideal fruit for consumption to maintain optimum health.


IN SEASON 


Loquats are usually in season in the short time of April - May, sometimes until early June so get out there and eat some soon!

 

SHOPPING & BUYING 


Loquats should have a smooth, firm, unbroken skin free of bruises and blemishes. But don’t shy away from the bruised ones, sweet and yummy. Loquats may have a brown, freckled surface, usually caused by weather, but their flavour is unaffected. The more yellow they are, the more sweeter, and the green are more bitter or acidic – so beware. To keep loquats longer, store refrigerated in a plastic bag to retain moisture. They are perishable and should be consumed within 3-4 days.

HOW TO EAT LOQUATS 


Skin or not to skin? Honestly, some people like my husband peel the skin off, while others just tear the fruit in half, remove the seeds and pop them into their mouths.

The loquat is comparable with its distant relative, the apple, in many aspects, with a high sugar, acid and pectin content. It is eaten as a fresh fruit and mixes well with other fruits in fresh fruit salads.

 Firm, slightly immature fruits are best for making pies, tarts, crumbles or crisps. The fruits are also commonly used to make jam, jelly, and chutney, and are often served poached in light syrup.

You can use loquat leaves to prepare an herbal tea for relaxation effects.

WARNING 


The loquat fruit seeds contain many toxic alkaloids like cyanogen-glycosides, though the low concentration and bitter flavour normally prevent enough being eaten to cause harm but in some rare cases can cause serious life-threatening symptoms like vomiting, breathlessness, and death. Therefore, especially children are advised to avoid chewing seeds and should be supervised by adults while eating loquat fruits.

I also created a Pinterest board dedicated to loquat recipes (my own and others) for collecting ideas and keeping track of links. If you have any loquat recipes you would like to share, please post them in the comments below. 

I am always looking for more inspiration!



stay tuned for some great recipes using this unique fruit! 



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3 comments:

  1. Hi my teacher. Thank you for talking about our loved zaaroure. Koléans are pride of our fruit. See you in class my great teacher.

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