Alright, I took a serious long blog break. I have unedited photos and half-written posts galore for you all, but somehow (oh, I don’t know, running a new business while parenting a 2 year old and a newborn?) I couldn’t seem to find the time to clean up the posts enough to post them. So an entire winter has gone by full of turnips and cabbages and various hard squashes and I have left you, the four loyal readers that are out there, bereft of deliciousness.
I’ve seen persimmons at the market for years now, though before moving to California I had only seen them in still-lifes. They look like a yellowish to deep orange tomato, or, frankly, rather like a heart ventricle. [Can you tell my father was a doctor?] They’re apparently quite popular in Asian and Mediterranean dishes, and that makes some sense to me, as those cuisines tend to not have overly sweet components…but I like sugar in a fruit, and persimmons ain’t it.
There are two main kinds you’ll find widely: Fuyu and Hachiya. The Fuyu tend to be more tomato-y looking while the Hachiya are more oblong, but be sure to ask before you buy. Both kinds shouldn’t be eaten until they’re ripe, as I guess ‘green’ persimmons are horribly bitter (the Hachiyas are apparently so astringent that they’ll suck all the moisture out of your mouth! sounds horrid), but Fuyus will ripen to pretty firm, something like a pear when it’s just ripe but before it gets juicy, where Hachiyas should be soft and mushy before you eat. The Fuyus can be eaten when they’re soft, too, but my guy (yeah, that’s right, I’ve got a persimmon guy) said they’re better when they’re a little firmer. Look for green leaves, not brown, on a Fuyu, and let it get just a wee bit soft to make sure it’s ripe. For Hachiyas, let them get mushy – go on solidity or lack thereof, not color.
I didn’t expect the seeds inside, so I’m glad I sliced it open. I went with Fuyus since spoonable fruit seems like, well, baby food, and I deal enough with that already, thank-you-very-much. Let me be clear, persimmon lovers, before I get hate mail: I didn’t HATE the persimmon. I just found it…useless. It tastes something like an apple or a pear, but without the crispness or juiciness of either. It’s basically just an innocuous fruit that’s twice the price of more familiar specimens. That’s it. You can eat them raw in hand like an apple or slice so you can remove the seeds, and many people like to cook them down into puddings and tarts. I’ve seen colanders heaped with them at people’s houses and heard exclamations of excitement when the season hits, so I guess I’m turning it over to you, dear readers: What the heck do you do with these suckers to make them worth your while? ‘Cuz I’m cheaping out. No more persimmon experiments for me unless it’s going to be fantastic.
Peel? No, but you do want to chop off the leaves on top, and if you plan on cooking them, they’re often peeled for texture reasons.
Edible seed? No. There will be 6 to 8, but they’re pretty big so you can pick them out easily.
Edible when raw? Yes, though Hachiyas are more often cooked.
Worth the price of organic? Unclear. They’re not common enough in the U.S. to make some of the standard Dirty Dozen lists in any capacity – since apples are #1 on the list and other soft-skinned fruits rank in the top 20, I’d err on organic if you plan on eating the skin. But they’re notably disease and pest-resistant for gardeners, so it’s quite likely that even conventional ones don’t go too heavy on the sprays.
In season: October through February.
Best with: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper (warm spices); apple, pear, orange; cream in puddings, panna cottas and cheesecakes
How to Store: On the counter until ripe, in a paper bag to speed up ripening. Once ripe, Fuyus can go in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks; Hachiyas can go in the fridge for a few days.