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TIP OF THE DAY: Persimmon Varieties For National Persimmon Month


[1] Persimmons look like they might be related to tomatoes, but there is no relation. The two fruits branch off at the Order level (remember high school biology: Kingdom, Order, Family, Genus, Species).


[2] A persimmon-yogurt parfait. Pistachio nuts are a great pairing with persimmons. Here’s the recipe from Low Carb Maven (photo © Low Carb Maven).


[3] A beautiful persimmon salad with arugula and shaved parmesan. Here’s the recipe from Naturally Ella (photo © Naturally Ella).


[4] Poached persimmons with a pistachio garnish are a lovely seasonal dessert. Here’s the recipe from Bittersweet Blog (photo © Bittersweet Blog).


[5] Rice pudding with persimmons and pistachios, at Bestia Los Angeles (photo © Bestia).


[6] This is the easiest jam you can make. It’s ready in minutes. Here’s the recipe from Sweet & Savory Meals (photo © Sweet & Savory Meals).

 

It’s persimmon season—October is National Persimmon Month.

The Asian persimmon (Diospyros kaki—photo #1) is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries More than two thousand different cultivars exist in China alone.

The fruit is also known as the Oriental persimmon, Japanese persimmon, and kaki, among other names.

The fruit traveled to Japan and Korea where additional cultivars were developed*. The plant was introduced to California in the mid 1800s, where additional cultivars were also developed.

There are hundreds of varieties grown worldwide.

Their cultivars are grown in California, which grows some 20 varieties.

There is also an American persimmon, Diospyros virginiana, a smaller version of the fruit. Honey-flavored, they are not usually found in stores due to their short shelf life. Here’s more about them.

And like all persimmons, after they reach peak ripening, the flesh becomes mushy (and ready for smoothies and other recipes where the fruit is mashed).

If you’re looking for a fruit tree, both species of persimmons are fairly easy to grow.
 
 
HOW TO EAT PERSIMMONS

In addition to being an enjoyable fruit, persimmons can be used in many recipes. Check out this list.

Our favorite uses for persimmons are:

  • As a substitute for tomatoes in a fall and winters salad (photo #3).
  • Mixed into yogurt (photo #2).
  • Sautéed in butter as a topping for ice cream.
  • As colorful decorations from fall through the holidays and the gray winter ahead (a great use for Hachiya persimmons, which can take a while to ripen).
  •  
    Before you buy a persimmon, you need to know that there are two general categories: astringent and non-astringent.

  • Astringent varieties must be ripened to softness to break down the tannins. If not, their flavor is unpleasantly bitter and puckery.
  • Nonastringent varieties can be eaten when they are as crisp as an apple. They were bred to have a much lower tannin content.
  •  
     
    TYPES OF PERSIMMONS

    Which should you choose? Here’s advice from Melissa’s Produce, which carries four of the most popular varieties.

    See all four in the photo at the bottom of the article.

    They have different optimal ripeness levels, so be sure you know which variety you’ve bought, and whether it should be very soft or firm to the touch.

  • You can speed up ripening by placing them in a closed paper bag with an apple or banana, both of which give off ethylene gas (a fruit ripener).
  • You can store them in the refrigerator when ripe, but don’t keep them there for long or they’ll get mushy.
  •  
    In alphabetical order:
     
    Cinnamon Persimmon

  • Category: Non-astringent.
  • Looks: Lightest color, sweet flesh with dark speckles.
  • Eat: Eat out of hand when crunchy or soft to the touch.
  • Flavor: Combination of mild mango and crunchy pear.
  • Make: Desserts—cake, dessert sauce, fruit salad, ice cream/sorbet, mousse, muffins, tarts, smoothies and sorbet, mousse and more.
  • Pair: with walnuts & pomegranates.
  •  
    Fuyu Persimmon

  • Category: Non-astringent.
  • Looks: Flat bottom and squat shape.
  • Eat: Eat like an apple, when just barely soft.
  • Flavor: Cinnamon, dates, honey and nutmeg.
  • Pair: With all of the above.
  •  
    Hachiya Persimmon

  • Category: Astringent.
  • Looks: Elongated, oval shape.
  • Eat: Very soft when ripe—don’t try to eat it until then!
  • Flavor: Tart with a smooth pulp.
  • Pair: Spread on toast, make sorbet, add to desserts.
  •  
    Sweet Pumpkin Persimmon

  • Category: Non-astringent.
  • Looks: Smaller than the others. sweet, rich & petite.
  • Eat: Ready to eat when firm to the touch.
  • Flavor: sweet honey and dates crisp texture.
  • Pair: Add to salads or cheese board.
  •  

    PERSIMMON HISTORY

    Persimmons grow in temperate to tropical climates. Cultivation of Diospyros kaki began thousands of years ago in China and about 1,300 years ago in Japan.

    It seems to be the only edible member of the Ebenaceae family, the other well-known member of which is ebony wood.

    From 1870 to 1920, Japanese and Chinese cultivars were introduced to California by the USDA. They were once grown in the American Gulf States, but now only grown commercially in California’s San Joaquin Valley.

    The Hachiya, a vigorous cultivar, is the largest one grown in California, followed by the Fuyu, which requires pollination to increase yield and improve color.

    Today, the major producers are China (with 66% of world production), Japan, Brazil, Korea and Italy.

    Other producers include Israel, U.S., New Zealand, Australia, Spain, Georgia, Egypt and Chile [source].
     
     
    PERSIMMON RECIPES

  • Grilled Scallops & Persimmons
  • Winter Tabbouleh
  •  
    ________________

    *As agriculture developed thousands of years ago, farmers cross-bred varieties of plants and animals to improve certain features and eliminate others. Fruits were bred to be larger and more prolific; to be sweeter; to have a more pleasing color or texture; to survive in different environments and seasons; to resist insects and disease, to be more durable and last longer after harvesting, etc.
     


    [7] Four types of persimmons (photo © Melissa’s Produce, which sells all four).

      




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