The secret to storing Loquat for wine making! Answered
If you don't know what Loquat means then just look it up on Google or Wikipedia ;)
Mostly used as ornamental trees in the warmer climates Loquat fruits come into season right when the summer is on your doorstep.
Although the fruits are delicious and high in nutrients, vitamins and so on: Most people do not even bother to try them :(
So if you spot them please give the fruit a try and you might get hooked as did.
The biggest problem of using Loquat for more than a direct snack is not the seeds inside.
They are quite big and you figure ways out to get around them.
Biggest hassle is how the fruits ripen.
Unlike most real fruit trees there is fixed time.
When the first fruits are ready then the last migh be ready about 3 or even 4 weeks later.
And depending on the local wildlife you really need to check daily for ripe fruits....
So how to do it properly then?
Loquat goes bad really fast no matter what you try.
Eat them quickly as otherwise they go off.
Those are common answers you get from people who had those trees for years in their gardens.
The trick however is really simple:
Do not plug them off, cut them off!
Some half decent pruning sizzors work great here, especially the smaller types.
Cut the stem of the fruit so at least 5mm are left on the fruit.
Without the hole from ripping the fruit off and handling it with gentle force there will be no damages or open areas ;)
Like that the fruits stay fresh for a few days in your fridge, just make sure they are kept quite loose.
Do not just fill a big box with them and hope all fruits survive the pressure ;)
If in doubt layer them on soft foam strips or cardboard - works really well if can find complete clusters that are ripe enough.
If you have access to more than one big tree you can get enough to even make a really nice wine from it.
You need to be quick though, so let me tell you how I do it:
Prepare a big enough fermentation vessel, in my case a 25 liter plastic drum, purpose made...
Add about 10 liters of warm on prefably filtered water, some sugar and a good amount of your prefered brewing yeast.
My personal favourite here is port wine yeast ;)
You should prepare this drum once you can collect enough ripe fruits on a daily base.
Prepare the fruits by removing the stems, the hard spot at the bottom and then cutting them in half.
A small spoon can be sharpened to help to get the seeds out if have some with many little ones hiding.
Have a pot with boiling water ready and put about 250 to 400 grams of prepared and cleaned fruits in it per load.
A quick heating is essential as you want to keep the cooking time as low as poosible.
90 to 120 seconds should be enough to get the heat throughout the fruit - please check every now and then that the fruits are quite soft now.
This step is vital to prevent self fermentation - you only want your yeast cultures to work on the fruits ;)
Squash the fruits when adding them into your drum.
To make a full 25 liters with just a table spoon of sugar at the start you will need about 10 to 12 kg of fruits for a high volume and sweet result.
The best option due to the constantly changing sugaar content in the fruits is to go with the flow.
Stick to max of about 15 liters per 25 liter drum.
Monitor the sugar content and alcohol level.
Port yeast dies off at a bit over 14%vol of alcohol.
Although some strong ones go up to 18% here...
If the alcohol level goes over 10% while the sugar content is still quite high then you add water until you get down to about 7%.
If the sugar content goes down too low you add more fruits.
With still enough active yeast you can even transfer half oa drum to a new batch once the drum is getting too full and the sugar content is still too high.
Just a matter of getting used to working with ongiong adding of fruits and water to compensate the time it takes to get enough ripe fruits.
Of course there is always the option to go low and start with 5 liter canisters instead....