I’ve been thinking lately that it’s gotten too late to post about biwa, but I saw some still on the trees in Maebashi on my bike ride yesterday afternoon, so I guess I haven’t completely missed the season yet.
Here are biwa. I’d never seen them before I came to Japan. They come into season in the early summer. The first ones in the stores were from Nagasaki (in Kyushu), but they grow locally as well. The biwa in Maebashi seem to have ripened around June 20th or so. One day, every tree in town seemed to be laden with orange fruit, and the next thing you know, it’s all gone. In the cooler areas, the season will be later, for example I saw several biwa trees with the fruit still on the trees in Yoshioka last weekend.
They have a thin peel that comes off easily, and it’s slightly furry (like an apricot). I peeled mine, but Alex eats them with the skin on. Inside there are one or more large brown seeds. If there is one, it is smooth and spherical and about the size of a marble; if there are several, they are flattened so that they all fit in the center of the fruit. The flesh is soft like a ripe apricot, and the flavor is sweet and fruity. They’re very tasty, but a bit expensive. I suppose that’s why everyone has a tree-why buy them when you can grow your own?
In English, biwa are called loquats. Apparently they grow in the US too, particularly Southern California and Southeastern Texas.