When you are buying produce, there are many factors that affect the taste and the price, the biggest being whether or not it is in peak season. One of the few fruits that are actually in season during the winter is persimmon, the sweet, golden delicious fruit that is extremely popular in Asia, but not so well-known in the United States.
This needs to change because persimmons are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, they are incredibly sweet and melt in your mouth. So, to help improve the persimmon brand, here is everything you need to know about the fruit. Before you know it, it will be your new favorite.
Persimmons are fruit, technically a berry, native to China, Japan, and Korea. For centuries, they have been a culinary staple in that part of the world. They didn’t make their way to the United States until 1856 when Commodore Matthew Perry sent them from Japan. In Greek, persimmon means “fruit of the gods.”
Persimmons are red-brown or orange fruits that grow during the fall on trees that can reach up to sixty feet high, and they look like small, flat tomatoes with a green cap. They are rich in dietary fiber, beta-carotene, vitamin C, manganese, and iron, and they have anti-inflammatory properties.
There are many different persimmon varieties, but the two most commonly sold in the United States are Fuyu and Hachiya.
You can eat persimmons fresh, dried, or cooked, and they are most commonly used in jellies, puddings, pies, and drinks.
Fuyus are a non-astringent variety of persimmon, and they make up nearly 80 percent of the United States persimmon market. They are commonly eaten raw, their color should be more orange than yellow, and at peak ripeness (which is the best time to eat them) they are slightly soft.
Persimmons ripen after they are picked. So, when buying Fuyu persimmons, the best strategy is to pick ones that are rock hard, and when you get them home let them ripen at room temperature in a brown paper bag. After they ripen, store them in the refrigerator for up to three days.
To eat a Fuyu, cut out the top and the attached flesh, then slice, peel, and remove the large seeds.
Hachiyas are slightly larger than the Fuyu, and they have an acorn shape. Unless they are perfectly ripe, they are mouth-puckeringly tart.
Instead of eating them raw, Hachiyas are better for baking. They are unbelievably soft, so it is best to peel and puree them into a pulp, and then they will add moisture and a pumpkin-like flavor to your baked goods.
Warning: Beware of Tannins
There is something to keep in mind the first time you eat a persimmon. Both the astringent and non-astringent varieties have high levels of tannins, which can give food a bitter taste and make your mouth feel chalky. However, when a persimmon is full softened and perfectly ripe, the high glucose content gives it a sweet flavor.
The Fuyu persimmon is non-astringent, but that doesn’t mean it is completely free of tannins. However, they do disappear sooner in the maturation process, so you can still eat them when they are on the firm side. But they are much better when they are soft.
By contrast, the maturing process of the Hachiya persimmon is much slower, so they are completely inedible before they are fully ripened. You want to make sure they are soft and feel more like a tomato.
Health & Nutritional Benefits
Persimmons may be tiny, but they are loaded with nutrients. Their high fiber and low-calorie content make them weight loss friendly, and the powerful antioxidants can help fight disease.
The antioxidants slow cell damage by counteracting oxidative stress, which has been linked to numerous chronic diseases like diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.
Persimmons also have a lot of vitamin A which is critical for eye health. Just one persimmon gives you 55 percent of your recommended daily vitamin A intake, and that helps with supporting function of the cornea and is essential for normal vision.
Dried Persimmon Snack
With an oven or a food dehydrator, you can make a healthy persimmon snack that has a zingy taste. Emily at Holistic Squid gives you the play-by-play on how to make this snack with Fuyu persimmon and some lemon juice. You can eat this snack by itself or add it to a granola or trail mix.
Pomegranate Persimmon Cheesecake Squares
This delicious dessert recipe features a cookie crust, a creamy layer of cheesecake, and a fruit topping. Both pomegranates and persimmons are winter fruits, making this the perfect time of year to try this recipe from Azure.
Persimmon and Brie Crostini
This delicious appetizer is perfect for your next party, and it will take you less than thirty minutes to make. All you need is Fuyu persimmons, brie, brown sugar, a baguette, and some cracked pepper for this recipe from Martha Stewart.
This recipe from All Recipes calls for Hachiyas, and it will result in a moist, delicious bread that is incredibly easy to make and full of flavor. Just be careful with the cook time, so you don’t burn it.
Another persimmon bread recipe option comes from Ooh! That Looks Good. It adds spiced dark rum and has a fruitcake feel, but a much better taste.
Make sure to use that right kind of persimmon for these cookie recipes from Taste Essence. The basic recipe calls for Fuyu, while the vegan recipe needs pureed Hachiyas. Both recipes will deliver a delicious fruit flavor with cinnamon, nutmeg, and walnuts.
Persimmon Puff Pastry Fruit Tart
Another persimmon dessert recipe, this one comes from The Ravenous Couple, and it is so simple that it takes just five ingredients and twenty minutes to make.
All you need for this recipe from Rhonda at Genius Kitchen is some Hachiya persimmon pulp and a few other ingredients that are already in your kitchen. It has a thick texture and bold flavor that will be a hit with the whole family.
Ginger Persimmon Scone Muffins
From Love & Olive Oil, this recipe makes a delicious breakfast muffin that features Fuyu persimmons, candied ginger, and buttermilk. With a light and crunchy top and a moist and tender bottom, these muffins are the perfect way to start your day.
Sautéed Green Beans with Persimmons
Another recipe from Love & Olive Oil, this one uses persimmons in a unique way. It mixes sliced Fuyu persimmons with shallots and green beans for a delicious dinner side dish.
Vegan Persimmon Butternut Squash Soup
Perfect for a cold winter day, this creamy, sweet soup recipe from Cotter Crunch is gluten-free, dairy-free, and perfect for the Paleo diet. This dish is extra healthy and full of nourishment.