The botanical name for persimmons, diospyros, means “food of the gods.” Once you get to know persimmons, you will agree!
The decadently smooth and sweeter-than-apricot flavor of a ripe Hachiya (the most common type of persimmon in the U.S.) can’t be beat. Persimmons are available September through December, and at their peak in November.
But do make sure you wait till your Hachiyas are ripe – really ripe. Otherwise, you’re in for some serious pucker power.
When shopping, look for Hachiyas that are deep red-orange in color and super soft to the touch. If the persimmon you’ve picked up feels like a thin skin full of thick jelly (almost like a hacky sack in your hand), you’ve got a winner.
Avoid persimmons with blemishes or bruises. You want smooth, glossy skin.
Eat them soon (within a day) because overripe persimmons quickly turn mushy.
If all you’re finding is firmer fruit, that’s fine. Simply ripen them at room temperature in a paper bag with an apple or banana. It may take several days. Patience pays off. When ripe, store them in the refrigerator.
Pleasures of Persimmons
The simplest way to enjoy your Hachiya persimmon is to remove its top leaf with a paring knife and scoop out the slippery, pudding-like flesh with a spoon. Hmmm! Toss the skin. Your persimmon delivers not only heavenly flavor but also a wealth of nutrients, plus about six grams of fiber, which is more than any other fruit besides berries.
One type of persimmon, the Fuyu (far less common than the Hachiya), is ripe while still firm. Eat it just like an apple. Its crunch is also a nice addition to green salads.
Persimmon Recipes – Hachiyas
Now let’s get back to our pudding-style persimmons, the Hachiyas. In addition to enjoying them solo, you can pair them with other foods in all sorts of delicious ways. For example:
- Mix your liquidy-ripe Hachiya into your hot cereal.
- Smooth a little persimmon perfection onto whole-wheat toast.
- Mix a big dollop of Hachiya into plain, nonfat yogurt.
- Whip up a fruit salad. In a big bowl, coarsely chop an apple, banana, and orange (or any combination of your favorite fruits). Then, mix in the pulp and pieces of two or three Hachiyas. Chill before serving.
- Make a rich, satisfying smoothie. Spoon jelly-ripe Hachiya persimmons into a blender with some soy milk or soft silken tofu. Add a dash of cinnamon.
- You can even create a persimmon sherbet. Simply cut off a piece of the pointed tip of a Hachiya, tightly wrap the fruit, and freeze it for up to three months. Defrost the fruit in the fridge for about four hours. Then scoop out the sweet, cold fruit.
Persimmon Recipes – Fuyu Fun
- Give your morning cereal some wonderfully crisp crunch with cubed pieces of bright orange Fuyu.
- Fuyus are also fabulous in an autumn fruit salad. In a bowl with about three chopped Fuyus, add a chopped Granny Smith apple, a handful of pomegranate seeds, a little lemon juice, thinly sliced fresh mint, and a dash of Splenda. So simple, but what an explosion of flavor!
- For a sensational salsa, chop Fuyus up and mix together with chopped onions, tomatillos, cilantro, and a Serrono chili.
In closing, we’ll share a nifty little quote about persimmons from Captain John Smith, from his General History of Virginia, written in 1624: “If it be not ripe, it will draw a man’s mouth awry, with much torment, but when it is ripe, it is as delicious as an apricot.”