San Diego Local Recipes: All About Persimmons

hachiya and fuyu persimmons san diegoPersimmons.  It’s December, so you’re seeing them at your local farmer’s market, Sprouts, and grocery stores.  They’re funky-shaped, waxy, orange, and in season in winter.  In case you needed any more evidence that this fruit is just weird, take a bite: feel your mouth immediately pucker and go dry.  What the heck are you supposed to do with these things?!?  Well, surprisingly, they’re not as big a mystery as you think!

 

Persimmons are from Asia, where they have been enjoyed fresh, cooked, and dried, in both sweet and savory applications, for centuries.  The two persimmon varieties available in the US are Fuyu and Hachiya, which have a few important differences.  Hachiyas are larger than Fuyus and pointed on the bottom; they are ripe when they are water-balloon, almost-exploding-into-orange-goo soft.  Fuyus look like yellow-orange beefsteak tomatoes, and they are ripe when the flesh yields to slight pressure.

 

The main difference between Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons is their level of astringency.  Before Hachiyas are kersplat-ripe, they contain tannins – the same chemicals that give tea and coffee their slight bitterness – which make them unpleasant to eat.  So it’s important to let Hachiyas ripen at room temperature until they reach ripeness!  Fuyus, however, are overall less bitter and more forgiving.  Fuyus can be eaten raw when ripe, and even when still crisp.

 

Here’s your Persimmon Cheat Sheet:

fuyu persimmons san diego

Fuyus:

– Tomato shaped, ripe when flesh yields to slight pressure

– Can be eaten raw, and when crisp

 

 

hachiya persimmon san diego

Hachiyas:

– Larger than Fuyus, pointed at the bottom (see comparison photo at the beginning of this post)

– Ripe when water-balloon-squishy, almost-exploding-int0-orange-goo soft

– DO NOT EAT before ripe

 

 

When selecting and storing persimmons, bear these tips in mind:

  • Choose persimmons that are heavy for their size
  • Look for fruit that is glossy, firm and brightly colored
  • Handle with care; they bruise easily!
  • Store at room temperature until ripe

 

Last of all….what are you supposed to do with them?!?  Although most people are accustomed to using Hachiya persimmon puree in various baking applications, there are tons of under-appreciated uses for persimmons, both in sweet and savory recipes.  Their orange color, especially now, provides an incredible colorful POP to holiday dishes! Here are some short recipes, suggestions and ideas to get you started:

 

      • Roasted Persimmons. Cut 1 lb (around 3) Fuyus in to 1 1/2 inch wedges. Halve 4 or 5 cloves of garlic.  Toss persimmons with garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast (together with garlic) at 425 degrees for 15 minutes; turn persimmons over, and roast until persimmons are fork-tender, around 20-25 minutes more.  Goes great with roast pork; sauteed greens; or in salad.

 

      • Persimmon Puree. Speed Hachiya ripening by freezing overnight. Thaw, cut fruit in half, and scoop out the pulp with a spoon. Process fruit until smooth.  Use the puree in quick breads, gingerbread, ice cream, pancakes, waffles, bread pudding, smoothies, and more!

 

      • Persimmon Salsa. Peel and coarsely chop 1 pound ripe Fuyus.  Combine with 3 tablespoons chopped green onions; 1 tablespoon chopped mint; 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro; 1 tablespoon minced, seeded jalapeño (if desired), 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons grated (peeled) fresh ginger; salt and pepper.  Refrigerate overnight for best flavors. Fabulous over grilled meat; as an appetizer over Brie and crackers; over roasted vegetables; or just with chips!

 

      • Persimmon & Squash Soup. For an exotic little kick, substitute 2 ripe, peeled, diced persimmons for the apple in this butternut squash soup recipe.

 

    • Persimmon Salad. Chop or slice fuyus and toss straight into salad.  Their tartness goes excellently with other complex wintery flavors like arugula, pomegranate seeds, fennel, avocado, goat cheese, feta, chicories, and roasted nuts.

 

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