The loquat is sometimes called the pipa fruit because its shape is said to resemble the body of the four-stringed instrument. Although it's a beautiful apricot colour, the loquat is not always the most enticing of fruit - they do not ripen after being plucked from the tree, so if this is done too early (as it usually is because they bruise easily), the flavour will be mouth-puckering. Loquats are at their best when picked fully ripe and slightly soft. The thin skin is easy to peel and the juicy flesh surrounds several shiny brown seeds. Loquats grow on trees in clusters and some vendors sell them this way, rather than separated into individual fruit - this gives you the chance to acquire some leaves, which, when brewed into tea, are said to soothe coughs and sore throats and cure digestive problems. Salted loquats are also good for coughs: use a sterilised needle to poke lots of holes in the fruit (choose smaller ones), salt them liberally and place in a clean jar. Shake the jar occasionally and leave until the fruit gives off a lot of liquid. When you have a sore throat, put a loquat in a large cup, cover with boiling water and use a spoon to roughly mash the fruit before drinking the liquid. The salted loquat, mashed and stirred into a glass of lemonade, makes a cooling drink in hot weather. Loquats can be made into a beautiful, clear, subtly coloured jelly. Remove the seeds from the fruit but don't peel it. Chop up the fruit, weigh it and add half that weight of granulated sugar. Bring to a simmer over a medium flame and cook until the fruit is very soft. Pour the mixture into a jelly bag set over a bowl and leave, undisturbed, until the liquid drips through the cloth (if you squeeze the bag, the jelly will be cloudy). Simmer the liquid until it reaches the setting point - there's no need to add pectin because the fruit (and skin) have enough of their own. Pour into sterilised glass canning jars, screw on the lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.