While a persimmon will probably never be as popular as an apple in the U.S., this lesser known fruit packs a punch of sweet flavor. If you’ve ever seen a persimmon, you may have mistaken it for an unripe tomato, as they look and feel somewhat similar. A ripe persimmon is dense with waxy skin and jelly-like flesh.
There are many varieties of persimmons, including the diospyrus kaki, an oriental persimmon, which include cultivars, such as the Hachiya and the Fuyu. If you’ve never had a persimmon before, it’s probably important to note that some varieties are more astringent than others due to their levels of tannins, which are naturally occurring polyphenols found in plants. Hachiya is a persimmon that is quite tart. However, once fully ripe, the tannins dramatically reduce, creating a sweet and juicy flesh. A persimmon will be ripe when it’s very soft, though you can eat a Fuyu before it is fully ripened since it’s not as astringent as the Hachiya. Store unripe persimmons at room temperature until ripe, and then transfer them to the refrigerator crisper drawer and use within two-three days.
To use persimmons, slice off the stem end and chop. The skin is edible, but you may peel it with a knife or simply scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Use persimmons to make jam, pudding, smoothies or salsa. Use it in baked goods, such as cakes and cookies, or add to salads, risotto or rice. Persimmons are high in vitamins A and C, and are a source of disease-fighting antioxidants. If you happen to find a persimmon in your grocery store or while traveling, be sure to try this delicious fruit.
Wild or Brown Rice Persimmon Salad (Printable PDF)
¼ cup orange juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
½ Tablespoon maple syrup
¾ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon coriander
¼ teaspoon salt
4 cups wild or brown rice, cooked
2 persimmons, chopped
1 cup cooked, chopped beets
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
8 oz. feta cheese
Whisk together vinaigrette dressing ingredients; set aside. Stir persimmons, beets, basil and feta into rice and toss with vinaigrette. May serve warm or cold. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours.
Yield: 10 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 200 calories, 6 grams fat, 350 milligrams sodium, 26 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 7 grams protein
Source: Adapted from University of California Cooperative Extension