There are trees scattered about town with branches sagging, heavy from the weight of hundreds of golden yellow orbs. Some may think of them as pretty little decorations, but they’re actually tasty little fruit.

Loquats, sometimes called Japanese plums or May apples, make excellent sauces, sweet jams and moist cakes. You also can snack on them fresh when they’re ripe. You don’t even have to peel them.

Loquats have a few pits in the middle. You can cut off the ends and squeeze them out, but you’ll lose some good flesh and juice that way. I like to cut them in half, then pull out the pits and any white pith with them.

Because loquats turn brown quickly after being opened, have a bowl of cold water and a couple tablespoons of lemon juice to place them in as you work. This will preserve their pretty golden color.

If you know someone who has a loquat tree, ask to take a few off their hands in exchange for something sweet, like these muffins. You can try these recipes or substitute the loquats in your favorite plum or cherry recipes to start.

One of my co-workers brought in some loquats from his backyard tree. They were so deliciously sweet, we wanted to savor them for a while longer. So, I made marmalade to spread on biscuits or bake in a jelly roll cake.